How to Get Medical Marijuana in Iowa [2020]

Iowans may qualify for medical marijuana use. First, they must obtain a medical marijuana card. Getting a card in the state requires meeting specific conditions. To find out more, check out our comprehensive guide.
State Program
Approved on
May 12, 2017
Online Application
MD Evaluation
Card Validity
Patient Registry fee
(515) 281-7689
Official Gov Site:

If you’re a weed lover in the state of Iowa, you may have been jumping for joy when you first saw the headlines that ‘medical marijuana in Iowa is now legal.’

In reality, legislation is actually very restrictive in the state, at least when it comes to the qualifying conditions and the types of cannabis that can actually be used as a medicine in the state.

In this article, we explain everything that you need to know about medical marijuana in Iowa, including how to qualify for it, where you can get it, and what the application process is if you want to apply.

Medical Cannabis and Medical Card in Iowa: The Basics

The initial legislation for the approval of medical cannabis in Iowa was actually passed back in 2017, when voters opted for House File 524, which is an Act establishing rules and regulations on “Medical Cannabidiol” in the state.

As you can see, the state of Iowa doesn’t even include the word “marijuana” in its legal applications, referring to the program instead as “Medical Cannabidiol” (cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a non-psychoactive substance in cannabis that provides medical benefits without getting users high).

It has taken the state nearly a year to organize and prepare for the production and sale of cannabis, and unless there are hiccups in the process, the very first medical dispensaries will open up for business on December 1, 2018.

MedPharm is currently the only approved/licensed cannabis grower in the state, and they will comprise two out of the five dispensaries in the state (as well as supplying the other three). Dispensary locations will be available in:

  • Council Bluffs // Have A Heart Compassionate Care | 3615 9th Ave
  • Davenport // Have A Heart Compassionate Care | 2222 E. 53rd St
  • Sioux City // MedPharm Iowa | 5700 Sunnybrook Dr.
  • Waterloo // Iowa Cannabis Company | 1955 La Porte Rd.
  • Windsor Heights // MedPharm Iowa | 7229 Apple Valley Dr.

How many patients will there be?

As of November 2018, there are less than 500 patients in Iowa that have been issued a Medical Cannabidiol ID card. It appears that authorities are being fairly restrictive in terms of who gains approval, as they do not anticipate registering more than 12,000 patients over the first two years of the program.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that not all doctors will be participating in the program. In fact, the Des Moines Register has suggested that many doctors will likely have no interest in recommending medical pot (even to those who qualify), saying that “…healthcare providers are under no obligation to sign papers attesting their patients have conditions that qualify for the new Iowa cannabis cards.”

What type of weed will you be able to buy?

In fact, registered patients will not be able to buy any ‘weed’ at all as the traditional buds or flower form of cannabis that is typically smoked in joints or pipes has not been approved. Instead, patients will be able to choose from cannabis oils, pills/capsules, topical lotions, suppositories, and nebulizers (inhalers).

Also, it’s worth noting that only cannabis with the 3% THC or less will be allowed to be made into medicinal products. In other words, patients won’t be getting high of their weed.

What conditions qualify for medical marijuana in Iowa?

  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures
  • AIDS / HIV
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Untreatable pain
  • Terminal illness (that produces severe or chronic pain, nausea, or severe wasting)

How to Apply for Medical Marijuana Card in Iowa

If you do suffer from one of the above qualifying conditions and are wondering how to apply for medical marijuana in Iowa, it actually seems like a pretty straightforward process (though doctors are NOT required to submit a recommendation on their patient’s behalf, even if they are diagnosed with a qualifying condition).

Here are the steps for how to get approved for medical cannabis in Iowa:

  1. Download and print the Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form from the state’s official website (which can be found here)
  2. Visit your doctor (or another licensed doctor in the state) and ask them to fill out and submit the form on your behalf
  3. Fill out your own patient registration here
  4. If approved (you will be notified via email), go to an Iowa Driver License station (DMV) to get your ID card printed out

What Type of Medical Marijuana Will be Legal in Iowa?

iowa medical marijuana

As we mentioned earlier, patients who are approved for a Medical Cannabidiol card in Iowa will be fairly limited in terms of what types of marijuana products they can actually buy.

For starters, traditional marijuana buds/flowers will not be allowed, and smoking will not be an approved method of consumption. MedPharm (currently the only licensed grower in the state), will be offering:

  • Oil tinctures. These are consumed orally by placing drops below the tongue and then swallowing.
  • Capsules/pills. These are swallowed whole with water (as with any other pill/softgel capsule)
  • Topical creams/lotions. These are massaged into the skin at affected areas for transdermal application

MedPharm will be offering products with various CBD-to-THC ratios, including high-CBD (20:1) options, high-THC options (20:1), and 1:1 CBD-to-THC options. As we said earlier though, THC content for medical marijuana products in Iowa will be capped out at 3%, meaning patients won’t be able to feel much (if any) psychoactive effects – even with the 20:1 THC-to-CBD products.

[Learn more about the differences between THC and CBD here].

Other Considerations about Medical Cannabidiol in Iowa

Still wondering how to get medical cannabis in Iowa, or confused about some other part of the program? Here is an informative summary/guide to wrap up all of the current information on the program:

When will the MMJ program start?The first two dispensaries are set to open their doors for approved patients on December 1, 2018
Can I get approved?Maybe, check the list of qualifying conditions here
What types of marijuana will be available?Only cannabis that has a THC content of 3% or less will be allowed. Also, the only forms available will be cannabis oils, pills, topical creams, nebulizers, and suppositories
How many dispensaries will there be in the state?5
Will there be a dispensary in my city?Maybe. Dispensaries will be opening in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, and Windsor Heights
Will I be able to grow my own weed?No
How do I apply to get a card? View the steps here

Final Thoughts on Medical Cards in Iowa

All in all, while it’s certainly a good thing that voters decided to legalize medical marijuana in Iowa, it is in no way going to be one of the most “weed friendly” states in the country.

Patients will be limited by the types of qualifying conditions, the amount of doctors in the state that will be willing to recommend cannabis, and also by the type/potency of marijuana that will even be available (products with THC content higher than 3% will not be allowed).

Several voters are already petitioning for a broader scope to the program (i.e. to add more qualifying conditions and increase the amount of marijuana products that will be available), but it doesn’t appear that any major changes will be taking place soon.

For the time being, it looks like those who want to receive medical marijuana in Iowa will have to take what they can get.