Iowa Marijuana Policy
Iowa is not considered a hotbed for marijuana activity outside of the state, but I assure readers, the Iowa marijuana scene is very active. Below are the current laws in Iowa, courtesy of Iowa NORML:
Decriminalized? — No.
Possession of any amount (first offense) is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Possession of any amount (second offense) is a misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Possession of any amount (subsequent offense) is a misdemeanor, punishable by 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Possession of more than 28.5 grams on school grounds while school is open is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.
There is possible diversion for first time possession charges in place of jail time.
Distributing or cultivating 50kg or less is a felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.
Distributing or cultivating 50 to 100 kg is a felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Distributing or cultivating 100 to 1,000 kg is a felony, punishable by 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Distributing or cultivating more than 1,000 kg is a felony, punishable by 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
Distributing any amount to a minor is a felony, punishable by a 5 year minimum sentence but up to 25 years in prison.
Distributing any amount within 1,000 feet of a school or park is a felony, punishable by a 10 year minimum sentence but up to 25 years in prison.
Possessing or distributing paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
For juveniles convicted of a marijuana charge, driving privileges can be suspended for up to one year.
Medical Program? — No.
Medical Marijuana Coming To Iowa?
Carl Olsen is one of my heroes. When he speaks, people should listen because he is what it is all about:
At the hearing last week, Tuesday, April 26, on my petition for declaratory ruling, your attorney, Scott Galenbeck, said that it was not the duty of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to check the explanation in SSB 1016 for accuracy.
After the hearing, on Wednesday, April 27, I spoke with Joseph McEniry at the Legislative Service Agency who told me that it was unusual for an agency to file a bill without an explanation of why it is needed and what the change will do. He also said he did not receive any feedback from your agency after the bill was submitted to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy for review. He told me he had no reason to think there was an error in the explanation he added, “The reclassification of marijuana from a schedule I controlled substance to a schedule II controlled substance permits a physician to issue a prescription for marijuana.” He said he based his explanation on his belief that marijuana was being dispensed from pharmacies with a physician’s prescription in states where it was legal for medical use. I informed him that his belief was incorrect and that marijuana is not being prescribed by physicians anywhere in the United States and was not being dispensed in pharmacies anywhere in the United States.
On Thursday, April 28, I spoke with Richard Johnson at the Legislative Service Agency, and he told me the error would be corrected if the bill is filed again for 2012. Mr. Johnson told me that Iowa Code 2.16 requires the agency to check the explanation for accuracy, which is contrary to what your attorney said on April 26. Beyond that, Iowa Senate Rule 29 says every agency study bill should include an explanation from the agency and that the Legislative Service Agency also has the same rule and sends a letter to every agency that pre-files legislation asking them to provide an explanation of why the bill is needed and what it will do.
I also checked Iowa court rulings and found the Iowa Supreme Court relies on the explanations in bills to determine legislative intent. See page 21, Iowa Legal Research Guide, by John D. Edwards (ISBN 0-8377-3201-8), (“the explanations can be an important resource for the courts when interpreting legislative intent”) footnote 45: State v. Olsen, 618 N.W.2d 346, 350-51, n.5 (Iowa 2000); Baratta v. Polk County Health Servs., Inc., 588 N.W.2d 107, 113-14 (Iowa 1999).
Today, you told me it would be fruitless to apply for a rehearing with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in light of the information I discovered after the April 26 hearing. You told me that if was unhappy with the April 26 ruling I should file for judicial review.
You also told me that it was your understanding that the explanation in SSB 1016 was correct, regardless of the fact an Iowa physician would be in violation of federal law for writing a prescription for marijuana in Iowa if SSB 1016 were enacted.
You also told me that the Iowa Board of Pharmacy will not file another bill for 2012 with the Iowa Legislature in spite of the fact that the Legislative Service Agency agrees with me that there is an error in the explanation of SSB 1016.
130 E. Aurora Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50313-3654
515-288-5798 home phone
515-343-9933 cell phone
Want to help bring marijuana reform to Iowa? Below are some good places to get started, in addition to Carl Olsen, via our Iowa activism page:
Iowans for Medical Marijuana
Iowa Marijuana Policy Project
Iowa Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Iowa Americans for Safe Access