Iowa stores may soon be allowed to sell CBD

A light-up CBD sign outside of "Despensary," a cannabidiol shop at 219 4th Street in Des Moines. (Photo by: Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa retailers selling CBD products may finally gain clarity on what is legal in the state, following a bill that passed the Iowa Senate Friday afternoon.

Since the passage of the Iowa Hemp Act in 2019, confusion has surrounded the legalities of CBD sales. But House File 2581 clarifies that stores may be allowed to sell hemp products produced in Iowa and out-of-state if they comply with the Iowa Hemp Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations.

However, the sale of consumable hemp products, such as CBD gummies or tinctures, will undergo stricter scrutiny before their allowed on shelves, according to the bill.

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, derives from marijuana plants, but it contains only minuscule amounts of THC, the psychoactive drug that can give people a high.

Municipalities across Iowa have allowed CBD stores to open and even major chains sold products on their shelves. But law enforcement crackdowns, including the arrest of a store owner in Ankeny, prompted confusion for retailers.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said the bill that passed the Iowa Senate on Friday isn’t “perfect,” but it aims to establish clarity for businesses and law enforcement who may be confused over the language in the original Iowa Hemp Act. The bill is modeled after a CBD and industrial hemp law that passed in Texas in 2019.

“Now, it’s clearly stated what you can sell in the state of Iowa and what you can’t sell in the state of Iowa,” Zaun said.

Under the bill, CBD products may be sold in Iowa if the hemp that’s used is compliant with either the Iowa Hemp Act or the federal hemp law.

Consumable CBD products may be sold in Iowa if the hemp that’s produced is registered with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) and the merchandise complies with the state’s packaging and labeling requirements. Stores must also be licensed by DIA before selling consumable CBD, according to the bill.

A consumable hemp product from another state may be sold in Iowa if it follows the federal hemp law and passes testing requirements that are similar to Iowa’s.

However, the bill also introduces a new criminal charge for smokable CBD products.

Consumers, sellers and producers may be charged with a serious misdemeanor if they are found growing hemp for the purpose of manufacturing it into a smokable product. Stores and users may also be charged for possession.

“I just have a lot of faith in the Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Department of Agriculture,” Zaun said. “Our job is to protect the public.”

The bill was sent over to the House for consideration with near-unanimous consent.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.