Iowa Marijuana Laws

The possession and sale of any amount of marijuana is illegal in Iowa.

By | Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney

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.

While not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Iowa. (Iowa Code § 124.204 (2022).)

Is Recreational or Medical Marijuana Legal in Iowa?

No, Iowa is one of the few states that prohibits marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation for recreational and medicinal use.

Iowa does make limited exceptions for low-THC cannabidiol extracts prescribed for certain chronic medical conditions. The person must qualify and register with Iowa's Medical Cannabidiol Program. (Iowa Code ch. 124E (2022).)

What Are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Iowa?

Possession of any amount of marijuana in Iowa is classified as a misdemeanor. First-time offenders face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Penalties for a second offense include up to one year in jail and a fine of between $315 and $1,875. Any subsequent offense is an aggravated misdemeanor and carries up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of $625 to $6,250. (Iowa Code §§ 124.401, 903.1 (2022).)

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 § 124.401(5) (2022).)

Possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone. A marijuana possession 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 § 124.401B (2022).)

What Are the Penalties for Selling, Distributing, or Growing Marijuana in Iowa?

It is illegal to cultivate (grow) or distribute (sell or gift) marijuana in Iowa. It's also a crime to possess marijuana with the intent to sell it. Penalties vary according to the amount cultivated or distributed, and additional penalties apply to offenses involving minors or that occur in a school zone. Second and subsequent convictions are also subject to harsher penalties.

  • Gift of one-half of an ounce or less. The crime is a misdemeanor, with potential penalties of up to six months in jail, a fine of as much as $1,000, or both. Subsequent convictions are punished more severely, with the same potential penalties as subsequent possession violations.
  • Up to 50 kilograms. A violation is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of between $750 and $7,500.
  • Between 50 and 100 kilograms. A violation is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $50,000.
  • Between 100 and 1,000 kilograms. A violation is a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine of between $5,000 and $100,000.
  • More than 1,000 kilograms. A violation is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

(Iowa Code §§ 124.401, 124.410, 902.9, 903.1 (2022).)

Penalties for Cultivation or Sale Within a School Zone

A conviction for cultivation or sale of marijuana on or within 1,000 feet of school property, a public park, swimming pool, or recreation center, or while on a marked school bus, can result in an additional five years in prison. (Iowa Code § 124.401A (2022).)

Penalties for Sale to a Minor

Selling any amount of marijuana to someone younger than 18 years old is a Class B felony, punishable by a minimum of five years and up to 25 years in prison. If someone 18 years old or older sells marijuana to a minor on or within 1,000 feet of school property, a public park, swimming pool, or recreation center, or while on a marked school bus, the mandatory minimum prison sentence increases to 10 years. (Iowa Code § 124.406 (2022).)

Penalties for Offenses Involving a Firearm

A defendant who possessed or controlled a firearm while violating Iowa's marijuana cultivation and distribution law will be sentenced to 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). In addition, none of the sentences may be deferred or suspended. (Iowa Code § 124.401(1)(e) (2022).)

What Are Iowa's Drug Paraphernalia Laws?

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 $65 and $625, or both. Subsequent convictions may incur additional penalties. (Iowa Code §§ 124.414, 903.1 (2022).)

What Is Iowa's Stamp Tax?

A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions 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).

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 possession of marijuana is illegal, people aren't really in the habit of paying the stamp tax for marijuana. Upon a criminal conviction for possession, distribution, or cultivation, though, the person will 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 § 453B.7 (2022).)

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If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can guide you through the legal system and tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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