Iowa’s Hemp Law
Farmers can apply for a license to grow hemp in Iowa. 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. All questions about applying for a hemp license or seed permit should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 725-1470.
Iowa Hemp Statute | December 4, 2020
Iowa Hemp Administrative Rules | March 20, 2020
Advisory Notice in Iowa Administrative Bulletin | April 8, 2020
License Reporting Forms
Other Hemp Resources
The 2021 license application portal will open in mid-January. 2020 Hemp licenses expire on February 15, 2021.
Hemp Seed Permits effective July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 | January 4, 2021
Hemp Licenses Issued in 2020 | January 4, 2021
Apply for a Hemp License
Which hemp license is right for me? | Flow chart
How to Apply for a Hemp License in 2021
The hemp license application will be online in 2021. We expect the web portal to be operational in mid-January for both new hemp applications and renewals. Paper applications will not be accepted. Check back for updates on the new licensing system.
If you wish to apply for a license yet in 2021, contact Robin Pruisner at Robin.Pruisner@Iowaagriculture.gov or 515-725-1465. Note, licenses run January 1 – December 31 each year.
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, smokable hemp, nor the use and sale of hemp and hemp derivatives for animals
• Hemp plants (Cannabis spp.) have THC levels of 0.3 percent or less, with a measurement uncertainty of +/-0.09%. Plants with THC levels above 0.3 percent are still considered controlled substances in the state of Iowa and must be destroyed.
• 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. Is smokable hemp legal to grow and possess in Iowa?
A. No. A person shall not possess, use, manufacture, market, transport, deliver, or distribute harvested hemp or a hemp product if the intended use of the harvested hemp or hemp product is introduction into the body of a human by any method of inhalation, including any of the following:
a. Smoke produced from combustion.
b. A type of article that uses a heating element, power source, electronic circuit, or other electronic, chemical, or mechanical process.
c. A device, including but not limited to a cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, or pipe, regardless of whether such device produces smoke or vapor.
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. A licensee must carry their hemp license at all times when possessing hemp.
Once the licensed hemp crop produced in Iowa is officially inspected and sampled, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) will immediately issue a Temporary Harvest and Transportation Permit to the licensee. With the Temporary Permit, the license may harvest and transport the hemp to a site registered with the Department. The Temporary Permit holder must receive permission from the Department prior to moving the hemp from the registered Permit location, shall not commingle the harvested hemp, shall not transfer the ownership hemp to another person, and the hemp shall not leave the state of Iowa until a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is issued. The Temporary Permit expires when the COA is issued.
If you are delivering hemp seed for planting, carry the COA. The seed seller must have an Agricultural and Vegetable Seed Permit from the Department. The seed must be properly tested and labeled.
When transporting hemp in Iowa, a hemp licensee must carry the following:
- The person’s hemp license, and
- The COA(s).
A person must carry a bill of lading under all the following circumstances:
- The hemp is in transit to transfer ownership, or
- The hemp seed is being delivered for planting and was not produced by the licensee, or
- The hemp was produced in another state and is transiting through Iowa.
A bill of lading shall include the following information:
- Name and address of the owner of the hemp
- Point of origin
- Point of delivery, including name and address
- Kind and quantity of packages or, if in bulk, the total quantity of hemp in the shipment
- Date of shipment
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. Is it legal to sell consumable hemp products, including over-the-counter CBD, legal in Iowa?
A. A 2020 change to the Iowa Hemp Act legalizes hemp for human consumption, but not for animal consumption. However, the sale of any consumable other than hemp seed, oil pressed from hemp seed, and protein powder made from hemp seed, cannot be manufactured nor sold in Iowa until the Department of Inspections and Appeals’ (DIA) proposed rule is fully implemented.
DIA is working to implement an Administrative Rule that establishes testing and labeling requirements for consumable hemp products and creates the registries for manufactures as well as retailers. DIA’s proposed rule is located at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/aco/11042020/pdf/ruleMaking/5265C.pdf
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 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 animal feed.
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. Do I need an Iowa Agriculture and Vegetable Seed Permit to sell hemp?
A. Yes. All agricultural seed sold and distributed in Iowa requires an Iowa Agricultural and Vegetable Seed Permit.
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 (updated July 16, 2020)
- 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
- 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)