How to Get a CBD License in Iowa & Start Your Business

Read Time: 5 min

If you’ve been paying attention over the past decade, you know that states across the nation have legalized a wide range of hemp and cannabis products, including CBD. These developments have created a wide range of new economic opportunities. In Iowa, by acquiring a CBD license, you can tap into this emerging market and start your own CBD business.   

While Iowa hasn’t legalized recreational consumption of THC, consumable hemp and CBD products are perfectly fine to sell to the public. Here’s how to obtain an Iowa CBD license – or, as Iowa calls it, a registration – and start your business today.

How to Start a CBD Business in Iowa

A CBD capsule for sale with a CBD license.

Starting any successful business usually requires thorough market research and a thoughtful business plan before you embark on the technical details of getting your CBD retailer up and running. Does your Iowa locale have an unmet demand for CBD products? Do you have enough startup capital to stock your store and keep the lights on? Before getting off the ground, you must answer these and other questions, including the payment processor you use to complete transactions.

After you’ve made your plan, you need an Iowa CBD license. However, one of Iowa’s quirks is that it doesn’t issue licenses per se, except for farmers who want to cultivate hemp. Iowa instead requires CBD retailers to register with the state and provide a list of all the consumable hemp products they plan to sell and the address where they will operate. Registration costs $475 per year, and once you receive approval, you’re free to sell CBD products with THC values under 0.3% directly to customers. 

Of course, before registering, you should thoroughly research the market and develop a business plan and a location to operate your business. One essential task is obtaining a high-risk payment processor that allows you to complete sales and begin making money. 

How to Get a CBD License in Iowa

As mentioned above, there is technically no such thing as an Iowa CBD license for retailers; business owners must register with the state, which subsequently refers to them as “registrants.” To register, create your credentials with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. Before July 1, 2023, Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) handled CBD registrations, so make sure you’re using the correct portal and following updated guidelines. Submissions may take up to 30 days to receive approval.

There are two types of registration: retailer and Manufacturer. Those who want to sell CBD products in Iowa need only apply for Retailer registration. If you want to make your own CBD consumables—maybe you have a killer CBD cookie recipe—you must go the Manufacturer route.

A document with green checklist.

CBD License Application Requirements for Iowa

For starters, you’ll have to pay $475 and list all the CBD products you’ll sell at your location or online. You’ll also have to provide basic contact info (including the address of your business, as registrations are not transferable to other locations or owners) and set up an account with the Iowa DHHS. Creating an account should only take you a minute or so.

The application requirements are fairly simple, but keep in mind that if you want to sell CBD products for immediate consumption – for example, you may want to serve hemp-containing beverages or baked goods with CBD oil – you’ll need a food service license or a food processing plant license, depending on the extent of your operation. Those requirements are completely separate from the Iowa CBD registration requirements.

Laws & Regulations for Selling CBD in Iowa

A CBD carrying container with two plants behind it being sold with a CBD license.

CBD is legal, though it is a high-risk industry and must adhere to a strict set of regulations. This can include selling CBD online, product details, bank requirements, city laws, and more.

Interestingly, there are no age restrictions on who can purchase CBD in Iowa, though the state DHHS does encourage individual retailers to set their limits. That means you could sell CBD gummies to 8-year-olds, and it would be perfectly legal—if you want to go that route. 

Otherwise, you’re only allowed to sell consumable hemp products that contain less than 0.3% THC, and you may NOT sell any product intended for inhalation, regardless of THC content. That still gives you a wide range of potential products, including gummies, tinctures, creams, and oils. The merchandise you sell must come from the United States, though you don’t have to source exclusively from Iowa.

How to Renew Your CBD License in Iowa

Renewing your CBD license in Iowa is fairly straightforward. You can renew starting 90 days in advance of your registration’s expiration date, which is a year after you’ve first registered. Using the same online portal for initial registration, you pay the $475 fee, ensure your product list is accurate and up to date, and presto: Your registration is renewed for another year.

Start Selling CBD in Iowa

You’ve registered, which will effectively give you an Iowa CBD license. Now what? It’s time to start selling. 

You’ll have to source the CBD products you wish to sell, which you should have already done since you need to provide a complete list for registration. You can acquire CBD consumables from anywhere in the United States, not just Iowa, provided they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. 

Whether you’re selling in-person or online, you’ll need an experienced payment processing provider who understands the CBD and hemp industry to provide your customers with a wide range of secure payment methods. 

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Iowa CBD License: FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about registering for an Iowa CBD license and the laws governing its use.

Yes, it is! Thanks to the Iowa Hemp Act, anyone in the state may consume CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, provided they are not inhaling them.

How much does a CBD license cost in Iowa?

Registrants must pay $475 annually to maintain an active registration with Iowa.

Can you sell CBD without a license in Iowa?

No! You can’t legally sell CBD without a license. You must register with the state of Iowa Department of Health & Human Services to sell CBD; if you don’t register, selling CBD is against the law and may result in a “serious misdemeanor” charge.

How long is a CBD license valid in Iowa?

A consumable hemp registration is valid for a year and may be renewed starting 90 days before its expiration date.

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