02-24-2020 | Hemp, Legal News

It’s 2020, is Hemp legal yet?

By: Tess Pocock and Amy Howells


Hemp is still illegal in Iowa. And while legalization is coming, it is unclear how exactly hemp and hemp-derived products, such as certain CBD (cannabidiol) products, will be regulated. The United States Department of Agriculture has yet to approve Iowa’s state plan for licensing and regulating the production of hemp, which is necessary for legalization. A few bills have already been filed at the state level this legislative session regarding Hemp, and there is still time for more bills to be introduced which could also impact regulation. Although hemp laws and rules are not finalized yet, it seems certain that to obtain a license to grow hemp in Iowa, completion of a federal background check and submission of official fingerprints will be required.  It’s important to understand the impact of the background check before applying for a hemp license.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) has provided that hemp licenses will be denied to any individual having a controlled substance felony conviction within the past 10 years, counting back to the date of conviction. This includes convictions for producing, possessing, using, harvesting, handling, manufacturing, marketing, transporting, delivering, or distributing a controlled substance. It may surprise you to know that under current Iowa law, CBD (cannabidiol), a product of hemp, is considered a controlled substance under Iowa law. So although CBD that is produced in accordance with federal and other applicable state laws will be legal in Iowa, any convictions related to CBD before such legalization will preclude licensing for growing and producing hemp and hemp-derived CBD for a period of 10 years. The only exception under state law for CBD is the Medical Cannabidiol Act which allows manufacturing and distribution of medical CBD to individuals with state-issued medical CBD registration cards through Iowa’s five licensed dispensaries.

CBD and other hemp-products are readily available in many retail outlets in Iowa and online. It is important to remember that local law enforcement agencies retain the right to enforce Iowa laws regarding controlled substances, including CBD. Further, the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa retains the authority to take enforcement action relating to false or misleading claims and advertisements for CBD products.

If you’re interested in growing, manufacturing, producing or selling hemp and hemp products such as CBD, wait until it is legal to do so. And if you have questions about regulatory compliance or business issues, please contact one of our Hemp Law practice group attorneys.