How to Start a Marijuana Delivery Service in Iowa

Please note: ILGM is NOT a legal adviser. Information contained in this website is intended as general introductory information only. The information contained on this website is not legal advice. It should not be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. 

Iowa has a legal medical marijuana program, but it is highly restrictive. Medical marijuana was first legalized in the state in 2014, and in 2017 it was officially extended. Individuals may use marijuana extracts with low THC. That said, no marijuana businesses currently exist or are in operation in the state of Iowa.

The State Board of Pharmacy is in charge of monitoring the medical marijuana program, and it will also be the entity to award 60 licenses for marijuana businesses in the state. The criteria that the Board will consider include population size, zoning laws, and other such areas.

Currently, medical CBD may only be distributed in the state of Iowa if it was acquired outside of the state. In the near future, licensed dispensaries will be scattered across 31 specified districts. Keep reading to learn how your business can secure one of those licenses to operate in the state of Iowa.

On the 1st of July 2014, Iowa passed its medical marijuana law. It provides access to cannabis to a restricted category of people with terminal brain disease as well as their caregivers. It also allows for an affirmative and complete defense to any state criminal charges arising out of their use of possession of cannabidiol extracts.

When was cannabis made legal
When was cannabis made legal – Image by

As of May 12th, 2017, Governor Terry Brandstand signed an act that additionally legalizes cannabis oil (as long as it has low enough THC) for different qualifying patients. This new legislation allows businesses within the state to operate and also obtain cannabis oil from within Iowa’s borders, starting December 1st, 2018 at the latest.

The Department of Health and the Medical Cannabidiol Board are in charge of regulating the rules and distributing licenses.

How many marijuana businesses are in Iowa

No medical marijuana dispensaries or delivery businesses are currently operating within the state of Iowa. When they open, they must meet these conditions:

  • Firstly, CBD oil must be obtained out-of-state.
  • Secondly, it must not contain more than 3% THC nor be more than 32 oz.
  • Finally, it must be used for oral or transdermal consumption only.

Medical marijuana cards are rapidly becoming legal in several states, but only 167 have been issued so far in Iowa. The previous law was set to expire, making marijuana illegal again, but the governor’s May 2017 signing added new life to medical marijuana in the state.

License Requirements

The state of Iowa will issue five licenses by December 1st, 2018. Dispensaries will be able to dispense/deliver medical CBD to the patients registered by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The geographic location will be a consideration for licensure. The department shall license new medical cannabidiol or CBD dispensaries or relicense the present medical cannabidiol dispensaries by the first of December of every year.

The State Board of Pharmacy will award clinic licenses through a competitive alternative methodology. The Board is allowed to issue licenses to up to sixty clinics. As a part of its obligation to spread the geographic locations of the dispensaries throughout the state, the Board established thirty-one clinic districts.

Cannabis License requirements
Cannabis License requirements – Image by

Patient requirements

For a patient or primary caregiver to legally possess or use CBD in Iowa, they must have an Iowa registration card recommended by an Iowa-licensed neurologist that is approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health. It is issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Patients must also be permanent residents of the state and renew their cards annually. Patients under 18 will need to enroll through their caregivers. Card fees for patients are set at $100 (although there is a reduced fee of $25 for qualifying patients with low-income status).


Although Iowa will be accepting applications soon, it may still take quite some time to get a cannabis business up and running. It is a good idea to allow at least a year to acquire the necessary licenses and line up suppliers and employees.


Consulting Companies

Looking to start a marijuana delivery business in Iowa? The consulting firms listed below provide a wide range of services from helping with state licensing requirements and applications to run and stock your business.

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