Iowa Gun Rights for Medical Cannabis Patients
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Navigating Gun Ownership in Iowa: The Intersection of Medical Cannabis and Firearm Rights
In 2014, the Iowa legislature introduced the Medical Cannabidiol Act (SF2360), allowing licensed neurologists and healthcare practitioners to certify patients with intractable epilepsy for the use of CBD products containing 3% or less THC. Qualifying patients were required to obtain a registry card, granting them legal protection and the option to designate a caregiver.
To enroll in Iowa’s medical cannabis program, patients must secure written certification from their primary care provider, who can be a qualified healthcare professional. The program is open to permanent state residents, with patients under 18 requiring enrollment through caregivers. Smoking and raw cannabis use are prohibited, and most patients are allowed to access cannabis preparations containing up to 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days. Exceptions can be made for terminal patients or those requiring higher quantities of cannabis based on a practitioner’s evaluation.
Governor Brandstad’s enactment of HF 524 in 2017 marked a significant expansion of Iowa’s medical cannabis program. Patients with the following illnesses gained access to medical cannabis:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illnesses with a life expectancy under one year and with untreatable pain
The law also paved the way for low-THC cannabis production within the state, opening opportunities for growing, manufacturing, and distribution companies to submit proposals to the government.
In 2018, Iowa issued licenses for five CBD dispensaries, marking a crucial turning point in providing accessible medical cannabis products capped at 3% THC. Sales commenced in December of that year, offering new hope for patients seeking relief.
In 2019, Iowa regulators expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include autism spectrum disorders and ulcerative colitis. The approval of inhaled forms of cannabis offered patients additional delivery options for their medical needs.
As the 2022 legislative session unfolded, senators Joe Bolkcom, Janet Petersen, and Sarah Trone Garriott proposed a groundbreaking approach to cannabis reform. Their proposal aimed to amend the Iowa Constitution to legalize various cannabis activities for individuals aged 21 or older. Unfortunately, this initiative faced obstacles and did not progress.
Despite the challenges, Iowans concerned about the current stance on cannabis are encouraged to engage with state lawmakers and candidates. As Iowa lacks a citizen initiative process, the power lies in influencing the legislature. In future elections, advocating for candidates who align with the citizens’ views on medical cannabis, decriminalization, and legalization can drive positive change.
Does Having a Medical Cannabis Card Mean Not Being Eligible for a Gun License in Iowa?
If you’re an Iowan considering both a medical cannabis card and a gun license, it’s important to understand how these two aspects intersect. While Iowa has taken steps to accommodate medical cannabis use for certain conditions, federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that despite state-level legality, it remains illegal under federal law. When it comes to gun licenses, federal law takes precedence. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) oversees gun ownership regulations at the federal level. According to federal law, anyone who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
This is where the potential conflict arises. Even though Iowa allows medical cannabis use under specific circumstances, the federal classification of cannabis as a controlled substance raises concerns. Possessing a medical cannabis card might be interpreted as being an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance, potentially impacting your eligibility for a gun license at the federal level.
Given the complexity of this issue, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel if you’re considering both a medical cannabis card and a gun license.
Can You Take Your Gun to a Dispensary in Iowa?
Iowa follows a shall-issue and permitless carry policy for firearms, offering two types of permits. Professional permits are granted to those aged 18 or older with valid reasons for carrying firearms due to their employment. Non-professional permits are available to individuals aged 21 or older who meet the permit criteria, including training.
From July 1, 2021, unlicensed individuals purchasing pistols or revolvers from federally licensed firearms dealers must possess a valid permit to acquire, a valid permit to carry weapons, or pass a national instant criminal background check. Notably, there are no waiting periods or firearm registration requirements in Iowa.
On the same date, Iowa adopted a permitless carry approach for both open and concealed carry of handguns by individuals aged 21 and above who are legally allowed to possess firearms. While Permits to Carry Weapons (PCW) will still be issued for reciprocity purposes, certain locations — such as the capitol building and its surroundings, along with designated state facilities — prohibit open carry of handguns. The minimum age for non-professional permits is 21, while professional permits are available for those aged 18 and above. Obtaining a concealed carry permit necessitates the completion of a state-approved firearms training course.
Regarding reciprocity, Iowa acknowledges permits from all states and jurisdictions. This means that if you hold a valid concealed carry permit from another state, it could be recognized in Iowa, provided it meets Iowa’s specific requirements. These requirements encompass regulations outlined in chapter 724.15, which pertains to the purchase of pistols from firearms dealers or private parties within the state of Iowa.
Areas where carrying firearms is prohibited in Iowa include:
- Within 1,000 feet of public or private elementary or secondary schools (including athletic complexes)
- On school buses
- On university campuses or at authorized functions/events at Iowa State Universities
- Courtrooms, court offices, or courthouses for judicial branch functions (if posted)
- Public buildings with posted signs and security guards (e.g., certain courthouses)
- Iowa State Fair
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of substances
- Any place where prohibited by federal or state law or regulation
There is no specific state statute that prohibits carrying firearms in dispensaries. However, since dispensaries are considered private property, they may choose to post signs that prohibit the possession of firearms on their premises. Check with each individual dispensary to understand their specific policies regarding firearms.
Can You Consume CBD and Own a Gun in Iowa?
The Iowa Hemp Act allows the purchase of CBD products in Iowa — with or without possession of a medical cannabis card — as long as the items are obtained from registered retailers. Smokable CBD remains illegal in the state.
Previously, CBD fell under marijuana classification due to its origin in the cannabis plant, aligning with Iowa’s Schedule I classification. An exception was Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Act (SF2360), introduced in 2014, permitting CBD products with up to 3% THC for individuals with state-issued medical cannabidiol registration cards.
The 2018 Farm Bill declassified hemp as a controlled substance, paving the way for its legal cultivation, manufacture, and sale nationwide. In Iowa, CBD remained controlled until the Iowa Hemp Act’s introduction in 2019. Its approval by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2020 allowed individuals without medical cannabidiol registration cards to legally purchase CBD products containing up to 0.3% THC, with inhalable products still restricted under Iowa Code 204.14A.
CBD usage in Iowa is legal. And as long as individuals legally follow the established gun laws in Iowa, including obtaining the appropriate permits and adhering to any restrictions on carrying firearms in certain locations, there should be no reason for legal issues or convictions. That said, it’d be smart to stay informed about any updates or changes in laws that may impact firearm ownership and use.
Can I Own a Gun if My Spouse Has A Medical Cannabis Card in Iowa?
If your spouse holds a medical cannabis card, it could potentially impact their ability to legally possess firearms under federal law. The federal government considers the use of controlled substances — including cannabis — as a disqualifying factor for firearm ownership.
If you — as a non-cannabis user — share a household with a spouse who possesses a medical cannabis card and uses medical cannabis, your eligibility for firearm ownership under federal law might not be directly impacted. The federal prohibition on firearm ownership typically targets individuals categorized as “unlawful users” or those addicted to controlled substances. However, it’s important to consider factors such as firearm access, secure storage practices, and potential state-specific regulations.
To fully understand the legal implications of your situation, seek guidance from legal professionals well-versed in both federal firearm regulations and Iowa state law.
Can I Own a Gun if I Have an Expired Medical Card?
In the state of Iowa, possessing an expired medical cannabis card may not automatically prevent you from owning a gun. While having an expired card could indicate past cannabis use, it might not categorize you as an “unlawful user” under federal law, which is a disqualifying factor for firearm ownership.
However, the interaction between Iowa state law, federal law, and changes in regulations can be intricate and potentially impact firearm ownership for individuals with expired medical cannabis cards. To ensure accurate guidance tailored to your specific situation, consult legal experts well-versed in both Iowa state law and federal firearm regulations.
Can You Own a Gun if You Work at a Dispensary?
Due to Iowa’s regulations concerning controlled substances and firearm ownership, working at a dispensary that sells medical cannabis could potentially raise challenges for owning a gun. This is due to the prohibition on firearm ownership for individuals involved in activities related to controlled substances, which may encompass individuals employed at dispensaries.
While Iowa permits medical cannabis use and dispensaries, the interplay between state and federal regulations can be intricate. To make an informed decision regarding gun ownership while working at a dispensary, seek advice from legal experts.