Iowa Legislature reconvenes with reform proposals to consider from 2015


Last update: January 11, 2016


The Iowa Legislature reconvened on January 11, 2016. Multiple marijuana policy reform bills remain on the table from last session, when the Senate voiced its support for both medical marijuana and reducing penalties for marijuana possession. This gives advocates hope that 2016 may bring some necessary changes to the state’s laws.

The 2015 session saw the Iowa Senate vote 26-19 in support of a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana proposal! The bill would have built on the Medical Cannabidiol Act enacted in 2014. It sought to allow Iowans suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions — including HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS, and epilepsy — to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Unfortunately, despite popular support for the proposal, the House failed to debate the issue in 2015. If you are a Hawkeye, please email your lawmakers and ask them to support a compassionate medical marijuana program this year. You can let them know an April 2015 Quinnipiac poll found that 87% of Iowans support the legalization of marijuana for medical use!

In addition to passing legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution, last year, the Iowa Senate approved legislation that would have reduced the penalties for possessing marijuana. The maximum sentence for possessing up to five grams of marijuana would have been reduced to 30 days in jail. This would have been a big improvement upon the status quo, which calls for up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both for possessing even a single gram of marijuana. The House also failed to debate this bill, so it is important that all Iowans continue to email their lawmakers in support of reducing marijuana possession penalties.

Make sure to sign up for MPP’s free state specific alerts to stay up-to-date on the progress of these bills.

Are you a patient?


If you are supportive and are a medical professional, a seriously ill patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.

Learn more about Iowa’s marijuana laws


Iowa has harsh marijuana laws and arrested more than 6,600 people for marijuana offenses in 2010. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, one of the most severe first offense penalties in the country. Unfortunately, these draconian penalties hit minority and low-income communities the hardest. According to the ACLU, blacks in Iowa are almost eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana prohibition than whites. Please ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition now!

You can learn more about Iowa’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by economist Jon Gettman, Ph.D.

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Pending Legislation