Iowa Marijuana Laws

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Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In Iowa, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse, and no recognized medical value. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.204.) While not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Iowa.

For information about charges and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Iowa, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Iowa.

Marijuana Possession 

It is a misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally possess any amount marijuana (including small amounts for personal use) in Iowa. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401(5).)

Penalties for marijuana possession

 First offenders will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties for a second offense include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Any subsequent offense is a felony, and carries up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.         

Possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone

A violation within 1,000 feet of school property, a public park, swimming pool, or recreation center, or while on a marked school bus, is punishable with an additional 100 hours of community service. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401B.)

Probation

For possession offenses, the judge may order a defendant placed on probation in lieu of imprisonment, with certain conditions on the probation, such as participation in a drug treatment, rehabilitation, or education program. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401(5).)

Manufacture and Distribution

It is illegal to manufacture or distribute marijuana (or possess marijuana with the intent to do so) in Iowa. Penalties vary according to the amount manufactured or distributed, and additional penalties apply to offenses involving minors or that occur in a school zone. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401.)

  • Up to 50 kilograms. A violation is a felony, and is punishable with up to five years in prison, a fine of between $750 and $7,500, or both.
  • Between 50 and 100 kilograms. A violation is a felony, and is punishable with up to ten years in prison, a fine of between $1,000 and $50,000, or both.
  • Between 100 and 1,000 kilograms. A violation is a Class B Felony, and is punishable with up to 25 years in prison, a fine of between $5,000 and $100,000, or both.
  • Second and subsequent convictions. A violation is a felony, and is punishable with between six months in jail and three years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • More than 1,000 kilograms. A violation is a felony, and is punishable with up to 50 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000, or both.

Offenses involving a firearm

A defendant who possessed or controlled  a firearm while violating Iowa’s marijuana manufacture and distribution law will be sentenced up to two times the prison term and fines that apply to that offense (according to the amount of marijuana involved in the violation, described above). (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401(1)(e).)

Sale to a minor

Selling any amount of marijuana to a someone younger than 18 years old is a felony, and is punishable with a five year mandatory minimum prison sentence (and up to 25 years). (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.406.)

Manufacture or sale within a school zone

A violation on or within 1,000 feet of school property, a public park, swimming pool, or recreation center, or while on a marked school bus, will incur an additional five years in prison. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.401A.)

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in Iowa to possess, make, or sell drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. A violation is a simple misdemeanor, punishable with up to 30 days in jail, a fine between $50 and $500, or both. Subsequent offenses may incur additional penalties. (Iowa Code Ann. § 124.414.)

Does Iowa Allow Medical Marijuana Use?

No. All marijuana possession, manufacture, sales, and use is criminalized in Iowa.

Does Iowa Impose a Stamp Tax on Marijuana?

Yes. A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.

In Iowa, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into the state are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($5 for each gram or portion of a gram, or $750 for each unprocessed marijuana plant). (Iowa Code Ann. § 453B.7.)

The Value of Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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