DES MOINES — Sales of hemp-derived THC products in Iowa will be significantly limited under a bill Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law on Friday, though the governor noted she had concerns about the bill after hearing from advocates.

The law, House File 2605, will cap the amount of THC in consumable hemp products in Iowa at 4 milligrams per serving and 10 milligrams per package. Many products on the shelves in stores now exceed those limits.

Consumable hemp products were legalized in the 2018 federal farm bill and later Iowa Hemp Act. The laws allow for the sale of hemp products that contain less than 0.3% THC by weight — the main chemical in marijuana that causes the high.

The laws were intended to address low-potency CBD sales, but they also legalized the sale of hemp-derived THC products that have a similar psychoactive effect to traditional marijuana.

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Reynolds said in a statement she has some concerns about the bill, but decided to sign it to prevent minors from purchasing psychoactive hemp products.

“I have concerns about this bill and have heard from individuals and groups on both sides of the issue,” Reynolds, a Republican, said. “Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.”

The law takes effect July 1.

Consumable hemp and other products for sale at Central Iowa Vapors in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Nick Rohlman

Several hemp retailers opposed the bill as it made its way through the lawmaking process, worrying it would hamstring their ability to sell even non-psychoactive hemp products. Some broad-spectrum CBD products contain enough THC to be disqualified under the bill, retailers have said.

The bill also gives the Health and Human Services Department more power to confiscate non-compliant products and punish non-compliant businesses. It bans the sale and consumption of any hemp products for minors, requires hemp products to have a warning label and bans the sale of synthetic THC.  

Iowa’s majority Republican lawmakers said the bill was needed because the industry had little regulation and they did not intend to legalize intoxicating products when they passed the Iowa Hemp Act. 

The bill was opposed by all Democrats in the Senate, and a minority of Democrats in the House, along with some Republicans. Opponents said the bill would hurt Iowa businesses and weaken access to products that can have therapeutic effects.

Iowa has a medical marijuana program that patients can register for with certain qualifying conditions.

Sabrina Bergloff, the chief operations officer for the Despensary, a Des Moines-based shop that sells THC edibles and other hemp products, criticized Reynolds for signing the bill and said the way THC regulations were handled this year was “utterly disgusting.”

“They’re not looking at the citizens, they’re not asking the people,” she said. “The part that bothers me the most, is that we are now going to have people that cannot get ahold of the plant-based medicine that they need.”

Bergloff said about half of the products the store currently sells will be banned under the new law, but that vendors have reached out and will be making custom packages that fit with the law. Still, she said she believes more people will go out of state, order products online or purchase cannabis illegally under the new restrictions. 

“Instead of having products that are tested and come with (conditions of analysis) and all of that stuff, she is now asking for the black market to explode,” Bergloff said. “Because it’s going to. All the surrounding states are pretty much legalized.” 

Tom Barton of the Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed.

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“}]] Reynolds said the bill would prevent minors from accessing intoxicating products.  Read More