Iowa’s Hemp Law
On March 20, 2020, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service approved the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s hemp program. This milestone means farmers are one step closer to being able to produce hemp in Iowa during the 2020 growing season.
Iowa Hemp Statute | March 20, 2020
Iowa Hemp Administrative Rules | March 20, 2020
The public hearing to solicit comments on the state plan that was scheduled to be held on April 3 from 9-10 a.m./CT will now be hosted via teleconference. Interested parties can participate by calling 866.685.1580 and entering code 0009990941#.
It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until official notice is published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin, which is scheduled to occur on April 8, and you have received a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Farmers can begin applying for a hemp license on April 1, 2020. All questions about applying for a hemp license or seed permit should be directed to email@example.com or (515) 725-1470.
Growers are advised to do their research and confirm there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp production before they make an investment in seed and equipment. This commercial hemp production program does not legalize the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for human consumption, extraction or processing in Iowa.
Apply for a Hemp License
Single Licensee Iowa Hemp Application
Who should complete a Single Licensee Hemp Application?
a) A single person with 96%, or more, legal and equitable interest in the hemp crop, and
b) No key personnel involved in the hemp growing operation. Key personnel include Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
|Single Licensee Hemp Application|
Multiple Licensees Iowa Hemp Application
Who should complete a Multiple Licensees Hemp Application?
a) If more than one person, or business entities, have 5%, or more, legal or equitable interest in the hemp crop, and/or
b) Key personal are involved in the operation.
c) It is vital that one applicant be the “Authorized Representative” for the group, acting as the main point of contact.
|Multiple Licensee Iowa Hemp Application|
Association Licensee Iowa Hemp Application
Who should complete an Association Licensee Hemp Application?
a) An applicant is acting on behalf of an association.
b) The applicant is an individual appointed by the Association to obtain a Hemp License from IDALS.
|Association Licensee Iowa Hemp Application|
University Licensee Iowa Hemp Application
Who should complete a University Licensee Hemp Application?
a) An applicant that is acting on behalf of an institution governed by the State Board of Regents, as defined in Iowa Code section 262.7, or a community college, as defined in Iowa Code section 260C.2.
b) The “applicant” is an individual appointed by the President or Chancellor of the institution to obtain hemp permit from IDALS. Other institutions of higher learning may also apply by designating an appropriate authorized representative.
|University Licensee Iowa Hemp Application|
Other Hemp Resources
Facts about hemp
• The USDA has approved the state’s proposed regulatory plan, clearing the way for an individual farmer to grow up to 40 acres of hemp.
• This law legalizes the production, processing and marketing of many, but not all, hemp products in Iowa. It does not legalize the recreational use of marijuana nor the over-the-counter sale of CBD. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is still working to determine if CBD is safe for human consumption.
• Hemp plants (Cannabis spp.) have THC levels of 0.3 percent or less. Plants with THC levels above 0.3 percent are still considered controlled substances in the state of Iowa and must be destroyed.
• Hemp produces fibers that can be used to make products like textiles, paper and rope. Hemp grain has been cleared by FDA for human consumption, as well as hemp seed oil and protein powder made from the grain.
• Farmers must have a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to grow hemp.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is hemp?
A. “Hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
Hemp and marijuana are the same plant, Cannabis sativa L., and can only be differentiated with a laboratory test. Hemp has a THC of 0.3%, or less, on a dry weight basis, and marijuana has a THC content that is above 0.3% on a dry weight basis. The Iowa hemp legislation does not legalize marijuana.
Q. Does the Iowa hemp legislation change the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program?
A. No, the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program, operated by the Iowa Department of Public Health, is not affected by the passage of the Iowa hemp legislation. For more information on medical cannabidiol, see the Iowa Department of Public Health's CBD website.
Q. What are the hemp license application requirements?
A. (1) All applicants will need to submit official fingerprints and be subject to a FBI national criminal history record check (e.g. background check). A person cannot obtain an Iowa hemp license if they have any controlled substance felony convictions for producing, possessing, using, harvesting, handling, manufacturing, marketing, transporting, delivering, or distributing a controlled substance, for a ten-year period following the date of conviction.
(2) An applicant may hold any number of Iowa hemp licenses; however, no one can hold a legal or equitable interest in a crop site larger than 40 acres.
(3) All applicants must completely and truthfully complete the license application form.
a) Hemp varieties to be planted must be recorded on the application form.
Detailed instructions on how to apply for a hemp license can be found here.
Q. Where can I have official fingerprints taken?
A. Go to https://www.nbinformation.com/locations/, and search by your location. Note, because of the COVID-19 outbreak many law enforcement agencies have paused their fingerprinting services. There is one officially-recognized fingerprint service that is still operational in Central Iowa. Contact www.print-ids.com to make an appointment if you cannot find a local option for official fingerprints.
It is important that you use the official fingerprint cards provided by IDALS. The card contain specific routing information to get the background check information back to IDALS as efficiently as possible.
Q. What are the pre-harvest requirements?
A. Before a licensed hemp crop can be harvested, the licensee must notify the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) at least 30 days in advance. IDALS must officially sample and test the THC level. If the sample is above 0.3% total THC on a dry weight basis, IDALS will order the entire crop to be destroyed. If the THC level is 0.3% (or below) total THC on a dry weight basis, IDALS will issue a certificate of crop inspection to the licensee, and the hemp can then be harvested.
If the hemp crop fails THC testing, the department shall order the destruction of the crop. The licensee shall pay for the actual cost of destruction.
Detailed instructions about hemp harvesting, sampling and testing can be found here.
Q. If my hemp crop exceeds the legal THC threshold, how can I dispose of it?
A. If the official pre-harvest test results show a total THC concentration exceeding 0.3% THC, then the licensee will be ordered to destroy the noncompliant hemp crop. The licensee, IDALS, and local law enforcement will work together to determine how the crop will be disposed. Possible hemp destruction methods have been provided by USDA AMS.
Q. How much does the pre-harvest inspection and testing cost?
A. Per the Iowa hemp legislation, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) will charge a base fee of $1,000 to inspect and test pre-harvest. If the licensee requests additional testing for different varieties or a retest, IDALS will charge a supplemental fee.
More details about the hemp sampling fees are available here.
Q. What are the transportation requirements of harvested hemp?
A. Once the licensed hemp crop produced in Iowa is officially inspected, tested and receives a certificate of crop inspection from the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS), the hemp can be transported with (1) a certificate of crop inspection covering the harvested hemp and (2) a bill of lading that includes information required by the department, which will indicate the name of the owner of the hemp, the point of origin, and the point of delivery.
If the hemp originates from outside the state of Iowa, the hemp can be transported with a bill of lading that includes information required by IDALS, including the name of the owner of the hemp, the point of origin, and the point of delivery. The transporter must be in compliance with the federal hemp law and other applicable federal law.
Hemp seed being moved for planting in Iowa must be transported with the following (a) If the hemp seed was harvested in Iowa, a certificate of crop inspection covering the harvested hemp. (b) A bill of lading that includes information required by the department, which must at least indicate the name of the owner of the hemp, the point of origin, and the point of delivery.
More details about transporting hemp in Iowa can be found here.
Q. What right of access will the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) have on a licensed hemp crop site?
A. IDALS inspectors may enter into a crop site at reasonable hours to determine if a licensee is in compliance with the requirements of the Iowa hemp law. IDALS may request business records relevant to the inspection. IDALS may request that the Iowa Department of Public Safety or local law enforcement accompany them.
Q. Does the new Iowa hemp law make the over-the-counter sale of CBD legal?
A. No, the new Iowa hemp law says that a person may engage in the retail sale of a hemp product, which includes cannabidiol (CBD) if it was produced in compliance with the federal hemp law and other applicable federal laws. Despite common assertions that hemp-derived CBD products are legal in all 50 states, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved food products or dietary supplements containing CBD for human consumption. The FDA published an informative FAQ that is helpful in understanding the FDA’s current position on sales of food products and dietary supplements containing hemp-derived CBD.
Q. What pesticides are approved for use on hemp crops in Iowa during the 2020 growing season?
A. On Dec. 19, 2019, the EPA approved 10 pesticides for use on hemp, which is the first step towards gaining approval for use in Iowa. Now the registrants or manufacturers of the pesticides approved by the EPA must update labels and register the products for use and distribution in Iowa. To request information on current pesticides approved for use in Iowa, contact the Pesticide Bureau at 515-281-8591.
Q. Are there training and licensing requirements for pesticides applied to hemp?
A. If you apply restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) or are hired to apply pesticides to hemp, you must follow the state of Iowa's licensing and certification requirements. If you have employees and you use pesticides in hemp production, the Worker Protection Standard applies and includes training, notification, personal protective equipment, access to pesticide labeling and other requirements. Visit the Pesticide Bureau's Applicator Licensing & Certification page for more information.
Q. Can I apply a pre-plant herbicide prior to planting hemp?
A. No, at this time, no herbicide can be applied to an area where you intend to cultivate hemp. This is subject to change, as per EPA approval of pesticides. For more information on pesticide products and registration, see the Pesticide Bureau's product list page or call 515-281-8591.
Q. How do the herbicides I applied in the 2019 growing season impact acres I may wish to plant to hemp in 2020 or future years?
A. You are required to follow the herbicide label, the label is the law. Because hemp has only recently become a legal commodity crop, herbicide labels do not include rotation/plant-back restrictions for hemp. Hemp would fall under the category of “other crop” and many of those re-plant/plant-back restrictions are for several months — some longer than a year. The herbicides you choose in 2019 may preclude you from growing hemp on those acres in 2020 — and possibly beyond 2020 — depending on what the label states.
Q. Can I include hemp products in human or animal feed?
A. The 2018 Farm Bill did not override the FDA's regulatory authority to approve the use of hemp and hemp products in human or animal feed. There are three legal uses of hemp in food for human consumption. FDA has granted the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status on (1) hulled hemp seed, (2) hemp seed protein powder, and (3) hemp seed oil. The FDA has regulatory authority over human and animal food products. More details about animal feed are available here.
Q. Is crop insurance available for hemp?
A. Yes, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) is offering limited coverage available on hemp at this time. Establishing an insurance program requires data to base decisions, and thus takes time, on a new crop. Furthermore, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) must first develop the federal regulations for implementing the 2018 Farm Bill hemp provisions.
Q. Can I apply for an Iowa Agricultural & Vegetable Seed Permit now, in anticipation of selling hemp seed once hemp is legal in Iowa?
A. The Department has received several applications for a seed permit specifically to sell hemp seed and those licenses have been issued. However, it is vital that seed permit holders understand that cannabis seeds, at this point in time, cannot be legally possessed or distributed in Iowa. Currently, there is no legal definition of hemp in Iowa Statute, thus all cannabis falls under the definition of marijuana.
Q. Who should I contact if I have questions about hemp production?
A. For more information, contact Robin Pruisner at Robin.Pruisner@Iowaagriculture.gov or 515-725-1465.
- AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Guidelines on Hemp in Animal Food (May 1, 2019)
- Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Iowa Hemp Act Would Pave Way for Future Hemp Production (April 26, 2019)
- FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products: Questions and Answer
- Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals: CBD Regulatory Notice
- ABD Regulatory Bulletin
- IDPH Position Statement on OTC-CBD Products
- Attorney General's Statement on Hemp and CBD Products
- How to Read a Label on a Bag of Hemp Seed | ASTA (American Seed Trade Association)
- Laws, Regulations and Other Considerations When Buying Hemp Seed | ASTA (American Seed Trade Association)
- Best Management Practices for Hemp Seed Production | ASTA (American Seed Trade Association)