Iowa Marijuana Laws

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

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 law does, however, make limited exceptions for low-THC cannabidiol extracts prescribed for certain chronic medical conditions.) While not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Iowa. (Iowa Code § 124.204 (2019).)

Iowa’s Marijuana Possession Laws and Potential Penalties

Possession of any amount of marijuana in Iowa is a classified as a misdemeanor. First offenders will 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, a fine of between $315 and $1,875, or both. Any subsequent offense is an aggravated misdemeanor, and carries up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of between $625 and $6,250. (Iowa Code §§ 124.401, 903.1 (2019).)

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) (2019).)

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 (2019).)

Manufacture (Cultivation) and Distribution of Marijuana in Iowa

It is illegal to manufacture (grow) 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. 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, and is punishable with 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, and is punishable with up to ten 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, and is punishable with 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, and is punishable with 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 (2019).)

Manufacture or Sale Within a School Zone

A conviction for manufacture 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 (2019).)

Sale to a Minor

Selling any amount of marijuana to someone younger than 18 years old is a Class B felony, and is punishable with a five year mandatory minimum prison sentence (and up to 25 years). 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 ten years. (Iowa Code § 124.406 (2019).)

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). In addition, none of the sentence may be deferred or suspended. (Iowa Code § 124.401(1)(e) (2019).)

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 (2019).)

Medical Marijuana in Iowa

Medical marijuana is not legal in Iowa. All marijuana possession, manufacture, sale, and use is criminalized in the state.

Iowa Stamp Taxes

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 or distribution, 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 § 453B.7 (2019).)

Get Legal Help

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, the law can change at any time. 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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