Heartland Strategies was proud to lead the advocacy to reintroduce hemp to Iowa. Hemp is part of our history and now, thanks to the Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds, hemp is now a part of our future.


In December 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill. Among the provisions enacted were provisions declaring hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the federal controlled substances act, where it had previously been lumped in with its intoxicating cousin, marijuana. Hemp is federally defined as a cannabis plant with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

The Iowa Hemp Act (Senate File 599) adheres to federal requirements. Iowa adopted the same federal definition of hemp the feds have; the bill permits the cultivation, processing, and retail of industrial hemp and hemp products. Cultivation cannot start until the USDA approves a growing plan submitted by the state Dept. of Ag. Though the Farm Bill did not define hemp products, Iowa law does define hemp products as "an item derived from or made by processing hemp and parts of hemp, including but not limited to any item manufactured from hemp, including but not limited to cloth, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particle board, plastic, hemp seed, seed meal, or seed oil." Items explicitly excluded are products with more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis and seed capable of germination. Senate File 599 further removes hemp from the definition of marijuana as defined by Iowa Code Ch. 124. The bill also specifically permits the retail of all hemp products, including hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD, and also permits the addition of hemp-derived CBD to human and animal consumables and other products to the extent permitted by federal law.

Though the 2018 Farm Bill has federally legalized hemp and hemp products and removed it from the federal Controlled Substances Act, the world of hemp-derived CBD is still largely unregulated. The FDA has been tasked with developing those regulations.

Marketing Application of Products

As of June 2019, the FDA has not approved any marketing application for cannabis. This just means the FDA has not said it's ok to market CBD as medicinal product, or as a dietary supplement. This is an area the FDA is expected to create regulations on in the near future. In the meantime, marketing will matter significantly. The FDA has approved one cannabis-derived product with CBD as a drug that is available with prescription: Epidiolex. There are no other FDA-approved drug products that contain CBD.

Dietary Supplements
Hemp-derived CBD cannot and should not be marketed as a dietary supplement. The FDA has yet to adopt regulations to market and sell hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement, and it does not fall under any federal exceptions.

Medicinal Use
Hemp-derived CBD cannot and should not be marketed as a medicinal product. The FDA has approved Epidiolex as a medicinal product which contains CBD. Retailers should never make medical claims about CBD, including potential conditions for which it might assuage. Labels on these products should comply with existing FDA standards, and should also clearly state the total milligrams of cannabinoids in the product (not just a percentage), and how many milligrams of the product are in the smallest size dose a person can take. No retailer should sell any product with more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.

Human and Animal Consumables
The FDA has yet to regulate hemp-derived CBD in foods for humans and animals. Iowa law allows hemp-derived CBD to be used in human and animal consumables to extent allowed by federal law; when the FDA adopts the regulations, Iowa law will already permit this. Businesses and processors should comply with current standards set the FDA. The existing exceptions recognized by the FDA are hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil. These may be added to human consumables.

Iowa law allows hemp derivatives, including CBD, to be added to cosmetics (as defined by the FDA) and other topicals products; such products are not considered to be adulterated because they contain hemp derivatives. Federal law does not require that cosmetics/topicals ingredients get premarket approval (with a few exceptions), including hemp derivatives.

Smokable Products

Iowa does not allow the retail or use of any smokable cannabis products, regardless of THC content.