Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Iowa?

Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya on March 6, 2024

Welcome to the best guide on medical marijuana in Iowa!

By the end of this page, you will have the answers to these questions:

  • Is medical marijuana legal in Iowa?
  • How do I apply for the Iowa medical marijuana card?
  • What should I know about the Iowa medical cannabis laws?

All the information on this page comes from the official Iowa Health & Services: Medical Cannabis website. So, you can trust you are reading an accurate and up-to-date resource. Let’s begin.

How do I Get Medical Marijuana Legally in Iowa?

Only patients with valid Iowa medical cards can buy medical marijuana from authorized dispensaries in the state. Before applying for the Iowa medical card, patients must get a certification from a licensed medical marijuana doctor. Afterward, certified patients should submit their applications online via the IDPH Portal.

Scheduling an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor in Iowa through Quick Med Cards is easy. To begin, fill out this information form and create your account. Next, pick a time that is convenient for you. You will have your consultation through a video call which generally takes 10 to 15 minutes.

The physician’s recommendation will be valid for 90 days after your consultation.

It’s important to note that the doctor can only recommend medicinal cannabis to patients diagnosed with certain medical conditions as determined by the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program. Usually, the doctor will consider cannabis treatment if you’re suffering from either:

  • A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological dependence.
  • A chronic medical condition that causes severe, debilitating psychiatric disorders.

Go here to see the Iowa medical marijuana 2024 list of conditions.

Submit Your Iowa Medical Marijuana Application

As mentioned earlier, your medical marijuana doctor must sign your Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form (marijuana certification) before you can apply online. Only then can you complete your Iowa medical marijuana application on the IDPH portal.

When applying for your Iowa medical marijuana card, there are several requirements you must meet. They include:

  • Adult patients must be at least 18 years old.
  • Minor patients (under 18 years of age) must have a registered and approved caregiver apply on their behalf.
  • Only residents of Iowa can apply for a medical marijuana card.

* Please note: Out-of-state applicants are not eligible to receive a medical card in Iowa.

Which documents are needed to complete the Iowa medical marijuana application?

When applying for the Iowa medical card, there are several documents applicants must provide to complete their application:

1. A Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form; signed and completed by an Iowa marijuana doctor.

2. Photo identification. For example:

  • Iowa driver’s license
  • Iowa non-operator identification card

3. Proof of financial assistance if you are eligible for the reduced fee. For example:

  • Social Security Disability Benefit notice (SSDI notice)
  • Supplemental Security Income Payment (SSI receipt)
  • Iowa Medicaid member card
  • Hawk-I member card

Go here to get a signed Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form from one of our Iowa medical marijuana doctors.

About the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act

Iowa’s first steps towards medical marijuana legalization were made back in May 2014 – when state lawmakers enacted one of the first Iowa marijuana laws – which allowed a case-by-case possession of low-THC cannabis oils for qualifying patients. Thankfully, the legislature was revisited in the following years, once in 2017 through House Bill 524, which gave the MCP its status of legitimacy, and again in 2020 through House Bill 2589. 

Being the most recent version of Iowa’s medical marijuana law, it entered into effect on July 1st, 2020, following its signing at the end of June. Among its other positive modifications, the revision significantly lengthened the list of qualifying conditions, with chronic pain and PTSD as two major additions for patients all around the state. 

Currently, Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program remains in a fully functioning state, yet it does so in a rather restricted manner, as opposed to the MMPs of some of its more open-minded neighbors, such as Illinois. For one, Iowa medical marijuana laws indicate that dispensaries are allowed to provide only cannabis preparations, not actual raw hemp flower smokable products or CBD-infused edibles. Moreover, access to THC-based medication is limited to a maximum 90-day supply capped at 4.5 grams, a quantity that is oftentimes insufficient for most of Iowa’s medical cannabis patients.

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Iowa Medical Cannabis Laws

As a patient dealing with medical marijuana products  in your day-to-day life, you ought to be aware of what you can and cannot do as a medical marijuana card-holder in Iowa:

  • Your patient status provides you with access to a 90-day supply of THC-compound marijuana, which is soft-capped at 4.5 grams and can be extended based on your specific condition. There is no legal reason for you to possess any marijuana beyond your explicitly set limit.
  • The only authorized locations for marijuana-related purchases are state-approved dispensaries. The court of law highly prohibits personal sales and you should NOT engage with them in any way, shape, or form.
  • Your patient status does NOT give you the right to grow cannabis plants under any circumstance. Any medical cannabis you intend to use needs to be acquired through legal purchase from a licensed dispensary. 
  • If your prescription includes hashish-based products OR any other type of marijuana concentrate, know that the regulations remain the same. Because of their legal treatment as a Schedule I Drug identical to marijuana, the Iowa code for possession of a controlled substance is in full effect. 
  • Marijuana paraphernalia (such as bongs, tobacco blunts, and rolling paper) is NOT necessary for any type of marijuana treatment. You have no legal excuse for possessing such an item, or, similar to cultivation, to use it to create your medication.

Where to get medical cannabis In Iowa: dispensaries

Patients with a valid Iowa medical marijuana card can get medical cannabis from state-authorized dispensaries. Patients should bring a form of photo ID (IA ID or driver’s license) plus their medical marijuana card to the dispensary when getting their medicine.

Also important, cannabis products in Iowa marijuana dispensaries are limited to:

  • Oral forms: Capsules, tinctures, pills, liquids, and sublingual forms.
  • Topical forms: Transdermal patches, lotions, gels, ointments, and creams.
  • Nebulizable inhaled forms
  • Suppositories: Both vaginal and rectal
  • Vaporization 

Iowa currently has 5 dispensary locations across its state borders, with notable locations including Sioux City, Waterloo, and Windsor Heights.

For a full account of the registered dispensaries in Iowa, check out the IDPH’s official list of licensed marijuana establishments.

Key Highlights

  • Iowa first legalized medical cannabis in 2014.
  • An Iowa cannabis doctor must certify you for MMJ, and you must register on the IDPH portal to get your medical marijuana card.
  • The state fee for the Iowa medical marijuana card is $100 unless you are eligible for the reduced cost.
  • Your Iowa medical marijuana card allows you to buy up to 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days.

Common Questions About the Medical Cannabidiol Program in Iowa

Below are the answers to questions patients have about the Medical Cannabidiol Program in Iowa.

Can the Iowa Department of Public Health (DOH) refer me to certified medical cannabis physicians?

No, the IDPH does not refer patients to medical cannabis physicians.

But if you are looking for a qualified medical marijuana doctor in Iowa near you with experience treating illnesses with medical cannabis, then you should sign up with Quick Med Cards.

Quick Med Cards helps link patients seeking medical marijuana with doctors accepting new patients. And to make the process simpler, we facilitate appointments online through video calls making the entire process easy and fast.

    How do I go about getting an Iowa medical cannabis card as a qualified patient?

    Getting an Iowa medical cannabis card for qualified patients involves three simple steps:

    1. First, get a signed marijuana certification. You can get your certification from our medical marijuana doctors in Iowa in just 15 minutes.
    2. Next, apply for the Iowa medical cannabis card online. You can register and submit your application on the Iowa Department of Public Health Patient Application portal.
    3. You can download your temporary Iowa medical cannabis card, as soon as your application is processed. Later, you will receive a physical medical card in the mail.

    How long does it take to approve my Iowa medical marijuana card application?

    It usually takes less than two weeks for online applicants to get an update on their Iowa medical marijuana card application.

    But, an update may take up to two weeks for patients who submit a paper application.

    Does insurance cover medical cannabidiol? Can I be reimbursed?

    No. Insurance companies do not cover the cost of medical marijuana (cannabidiol) or related expenses such as the doctor’s consultation.

    How do I know how much to take? Who determines dosage?

    Patients will get dosing recommendations from marijuana dispensaries when picking up their medicine.

    Often, the dosage is based on information from manufacturers and available patient information.

    What products are available for purchase from licensed dispensaries in Iowa?

    Depending on the dispensary, patients are likely to find different medical marijuana products.

    But the only legal forms of medical cannabis in Iowa are oral, topicals, suppositories, and those delivered through vaping and nebulizers. Absent from the list are edibles and cannabis flower which have not yet been approved for medical use.

    Does Iowa have medical marijuana cards?

    Yes. When the Iowa Office of Medical Cannabidiol approves an application, a temporary Iowa medical marijuana card becomes available for download.

    Later, the department sends a physical medical card in the mail.

    How much does marijuana cost in Iowa?

    The following are the average starting prices for different forms of medical marijuana in Iowa:

    • Vape cartridge, 500mg at $69.99
    • Tablets, 30 tablets at $33.99
    • Tinctures, 14 ml at $79.99

    It is worth noting that the cost of medical marijuana depends on the Iowa dispensary you visit, the amount of medicine you buy, the potency of the medicine, and the mode of delivery.

    Can I drive while using medical marijuana?

    No. It is illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of medical marijuana.

    Can I use medical marijuana in public?

    No, it is unlawful to use medical marijuana in public places.

    Can you own a gun and have a medical card in Iowa?

    No. Patients with a medical marijuana card cannot buy guns or have a CCW permit in Iowa. Federal law requires potential gun buyers or CCW applicants to disclose their use of marijuana and controlled substances.

    Regardless of the legality of medical marijuana in Iowa, this federal requirement automatically restricts patients.

    Are there any repercussions from my employer if I am a medical cannabidiol patient?

    Unfortunately, Iowa medical marijuana laws do not obligate employers to condone the use of medical cannabis in the workplace – even for qualifying patients.

    So, to be on the safe side, patients should review work policies related to THC or marijuana use at work or outside work. If the job prohibits cannabis use even outside of office hours and conducts drug tests, it may be best to steer clear.

    What if I encounter law enforcement? How do I prove that the products are mine?

    First, you present your Iowa medical marijuana card as evidence that you are a lawful medical marijuana patient.

    Secondly, the labeling on cannabis products from Iowa dispensaries indicates the patient number on the medical card. Therefore, proving the ownership of your medicine.

    Patient Resources and Forms

    Contact details for the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program

    State Agency: State of Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

    Phone: 1-877-214-9313

    Mailing Address:

    Bureau of Medical Cannabidiol
    Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
    Lucas State Office Building
    ATTN: OMC
    321 E. 12th St.
    Des Moines, IA 50319

    Email: medical.cannabidiol@idph.iowa.gov

    Website: https://hhs.iowa.gov/programs/programs-and-services/medical-cannabis