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Iowa Marijuana Laws

With so many states recently amending their drug laws to allow for medical marijuana and, in some states, legalize recreational marijuana use, you may be wondering if pot is legal in the Hawkeye State. The short answer is no, unless you qualify under a very specific medical context. This is an introduction to Iowa's marijuana laws.

Marijuana Laws in Iowa

In 2014, Iowa became one of a few states to legalize the possession and use of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive extract naturally found in marijuana plants. Even then, use of cannabidiol is limited to patients with intractable epilepsy and the law only provides for an affirmative defense for individuals and their caregivers if they are charged with possession of the extract. The use is so limited that many medical marijuana advocates do not consider Iowa and states like it that have these limited use exceptions for epileptic seizures to be considered as states that truly have legalized medical marijuana. Typically states that provide for medical marijuana for its residents are on the road to the total decriminalization of the drug. However, that is not true in Iowa.

For the rest of the state, marijuana possession and sale remain illegal in Iowa. Selling marijuana in the state is a felony, punishable by up to 50 years in prison depending on the amount of marijuana, the location of the sale, and the criminal history of the defendant.

However, Iowa's policies do reflect empathy toward people with drug problems and addictions. For example, an offender who is considered to be a chronic marijuana abuser may be ordered to rehabilitation. If the offender can successfully complete the program, the court can place him or her on probation.

The chart below lists the details of Iowa's marijuana statutes.

Code Section

Iowa Code 124, et seq.: Controlled Substances




Under 50 kg.: Class D felony, fine $1000 to $5000; 50 to 100 kg.: Class C felony, fine $1000 to $50,000; 100 to 1000 kg.: Class B felony, $5000 to $100,000; Over 1000 kg.: Class B felony with penalty of up to 50 yrs. and $1,000,000; Subsequent offense: triple penalties; more severe penalties for distribution to minor or to person 3 yrs. younger



Note:State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

While state marijuana laws may regulate the drug within state borders, the federal Controlled Substance Act also criminalizes marijuana possession, sale, and trafficking nationwide. So even if a state's marijuana laws say it's legal, federal law always wins if there is a conflict. For the most part, federal law enforcement agencies have left policing in-state marijuana incidents up to in-state authorities. But the federal government may still enforce restrictions on interstate cases of marijuana possession, manufacturing and cultivation and trafficking and distribution.

Facing Marijuana Charges? An Attorney Can Help

Drug charges can carry serious penalties. Specifically, Iowa has very strict penalties attached to the possession, growing, or selling of marijuana. If you are facing drug charges in Iowa involving marijuana, then you should act in your best interests and secure an Iowa drug crimes attorney who can put up a solid defense on your behalf.

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