Iowa families push for medical marijuana access


Last update: October 21, 2016


In 2015-2016, Iowa patient advocates and their loved ones kept up the pressure to bring a compassionate medical marijuana program to their state. They have not yet prevailed, but it’s not unusual for medical marijuana campaigns to be multi-year efforts, so it’s vital that compassionate Iowans get involved and raise their voices.

The 2015 session saw the Iowa Senate vote 26-19 in support of a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana proposal! The bill would have allowed 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. In 2016, it appeared the issue had a real chance of success, but ultimately House leadership pushed for a deeply problematic proposal that would have required families to travel out of state to access medical cannabis oils.

If you are a Hawkeye, please email your lawmakers and ask them to support a compassionate medical marijuana program in 2017. You can let them know an April 2015 Quinnipiac poll found that 87% of Iowans support the legalization of marijuana for medical use!

Are you a medical professional, patient, law enforcement official, or member of the clergy?


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 who 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.

In 2015, in addition to approving legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution, 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, which would have been a big improvement upon the status quo. Sadly, the House failed to debate this sensible bill. This is why it is so critical that Iowans email their lawmakers in support of reducing marijuana possession penalties. Or, ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition now!

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Pending Legislation