On May 12, 2017, then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed HB 524 into law. The law allows certain patients in the state to use, possess, and access low-THC cannabis oil with their doctor’s authorization. HB 524 expanded a 2014 law by adding more conditions that qualify for low-THC oils, preventing prosecutions (not just convictions), and allowing in-state access to the cannabis oils.

However, the law still falls short of what MPP considers a comprehensive medical cannabis law because it is limited to low-THC cannabis oils.

Qualifying conditions: Cancer, if the underlying condition or treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting syndrome; multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; AIDS or HIV; Crohn’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; any terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year, and if the illness or its treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting syndrome; Parkinson’s disease; ulcerative colitis; severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior; corticobasal degeneration; and untreatable pain, meaning pain whose cause cannot be removed by general accepted medical practice and the full range of pain management modalities has been used without success or with intolerable side effects.

Enrolling in the program: In order to enroll in the program, patients must obtain a written certification from their doctor, meaning a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery. The doctor must be a patient’s primary care provider. Patients must be permanent residents of the state. Patients under 18 can only enroll in the program through their caregivers. Patient registration can be found here.

Caregivers: Under the program, caregivers can enroll to help patients pick up and use the oil. Caregivers must be residents of Iowa or a bordering state to Iowa and at least 18 years of age. The patients’ doctors must designate them as a necessary caretaker.

Registration card fees: Card fees for patients are typically $100. However, if the patient receives social security disability benefits, supplemental security insurance payments, or is enrolled in a medical assistance program, the fee is $25. Caregiver cards are $25.

Medical cannabidiol board powers: A medical cannabidiol board has the power to add new conditions to the state program. This board also makes recommendations to the General Assembly about increasing the amount of THC allowed under the program, but only the legislature itself could change the cap.

Business licenses: Two manufacturers have been licensed under the law. They supply low-THC cannabis oils to five licensed dispensaries, which sell the oils to qualifying patients. You can find the dispensaries’ locations here.

Cannabis oil limits: THC is capped at three percent. Smoking is not permitted. A 90-day supply is the maximum amount of product to be dispensed by a dispensary at one time.

Out-of-state reciprocity: Patients visiting Iowa from another state who are registered with a cannabidiol program in their home state can possess and consume cannabis in Iowa, but they are not permitted to make purchases. The law allows Iowa patients to register to obtain the oil in Minnesota. However, Minnesota’s medical cannabis program does not currently permit this.