Consumable hemp program grows in Iowa

Jake Winsor of Winsor CBD poses with some of his hemp-based products at his Vinton store November 3. Winsor has the hemp that he grows and harvests processed into the active ingredients that he uses in the products he sells. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Full spectrum CBD gummies are available for sale at Winsor CBD in Vinton. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Clarity Broad Spectrum CBD oil containers are for sale at Winsor CBD in Vinton. Jake Winsor has the hemp he grows and harvests processed into the active ingredients he uses in the products he sells. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

More than 800 retailers in Iowa are licensed to sell consumable hemp products, including edibles, beverages, and lotions. But some licensed producers, of which there were more than 120 over the 18 months of Iowa’s consumption hemp program, say the state is being inundated with unlicensed products and the fees are too high to compete with national companies.

“The royalties in Iowa are outrageously high,” said Bridget Chambers, owner of Bluestem Prairie Organic Hemp in Webster City. “I had a handful of people who were dying to sell my products, but when I told them it was $475 a year, they backed out.”

Iowa’s hemp regulations, approved in March 2021, define these products as something that is put into the body through ingestion, e.g. B. Food, drink, chewing tobacco or snuff, or something that is absorbed through the skin like a lotion.

The consumable hemp program, created to regulate the explosion of CBD products in Iowa, differs from the state’s medical marijuana program, which is open only to individuals with certain certified health conditions who have a registration card.

Consumable hemp products manufactured or sold in Iowa must contain no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

To date, Iowa has earned $762,000 from consumable hemp royalties, which works out to $475 per year for producers and retailers.


From March 2021 to August of this year, Iowa received 82 complaints about alleged violations of consumable hemp regulations.

  • “They tried to sell me weed from a plastic container, weighed it on a scale and told me I could smoke it. But I know it’s illegal in Iowa. So I’m confused as to how they’re selling it,” one complainant said April 6 of a Marshalltown store.
  • A Des Moines brewery “is hosting a 420-inspired beer dinner. A four-course meal paired with beer includes things like cannabis chicken bites and roasted hemp blunts.” Inspectors were unable to verify the complaint, records show.
  • “Hi, I am writing this email today to let you know about a cannabis store that I believe does not have a hemp license and also sells Delta 8 edibles and vapes and CBD for pets,” wrote another complainant on April 19 through a Des Moines store. “I find it extremely unfair to allow his business to sell these items when the rules of a hemp license have been strictly followed by other businesses.”

The Inspection and Complaints Department issued 34 enforcement actions between March 2021 and August, most of which were letters urging retailers to stop the illegal behavior.

The state has issued two 30-day suspensions, one on August 1 to the pharmacy at 221 Fourth St. in Des Moines and the other on April 7 to Greenleaf Tobacco & Vape, 5901 University Ave. in Cedar Falls Both stores had prior warnings.

The only warning letter sent to a Linn or Johnson County business was to the Cobble Hill restaurant in Cedar Rapids on June 9.

“The facility was found to be manufacturing CBD oil to add to beverages; In addition, the facility is not registered with DIA as a hemp consumption facility,” the complaints database said.

Restaurant owners did not respond for comment.

delta 8

About a dozen complaints have involved retailers selling consumable hemp products branded Delta 8, a psychoactive cannabis substance that some believe has a milder high than other strains.

Some Iowans mistakenly think Delta 8 is illegal here, but it all depends on total THC levels not exceeding 0.3 percent, said Mark Speltz, head of the Food & Consumer Safety Bureau at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

“If their 0.1 percent is Delta 8, it would still be a legal product,” he said.

Government inspectors and consumers can find a Certificate of Analysis showing percentage of THC on product labels, many of which have QR codes.

A hemp plant stands at the Carriage House Hemp Farm in Oxford in 2021. This hemp is CBG, which is less likely to have THC in the plant than CDB. Owner Mark Wright says his hemp farm is one of the few CBG hemp farms in the state. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

More education needed

Iowa’s consumable hemp program has a full-time inspector, Tenesha Stubblefield, but other state employees who inspect restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores report if they see illegal hemp products, Speltz said.

Jake Winsor, who owns Winsor CBD in Vinton, said he’s glad Iowa now allows people to grow hemp and sell hemp products. He and his wife, Leah, grow chemical-free hemp on an acre of land in Benton County and sell three products — CBD oil, gummies, and a topical balm stick — in their store and online.

“There are so many products, so many different companies. Many consumers don’t know who to turn to,” Winsor said. “I’m sure some of these people who want to open (a business) are feeling overwhelmed.”

Winsor wants state officials to educate more about what’s legal and what’s not. For example, he didn’t think selling hemp flower was legal, but then he heard that some growers were doing so this fall.


Reducing the $475 fee could attract more local manufacturers and retailers to enter the market, Winsor said.

Iowa set its fees based on research into what other states charge and the cost of running the program, Speltz said.

“We’ll look at this again to see if there’s a need to support the program with IT costs, salaries, etc.,” Speltz said. “I don’t expect a change to come anytime soon, but it’s something we’re constantly monitoring.”

A 2021 review by the Cannabis Times shows that most states charge between $50 and $1,000 to produce or sell legal hemp products.

Banned hemp products in Iowa

Anything with more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC

Products made from hemp for animals or pets



Hemp products marketed or intended to cure, treat, alleviate, prevent disease, or affect the structure of the human body (these fall under Iowa’s medicinal marijuana program).

Hemp bread, cake, pie, or other “cottage food” made in a person’s home kitchen or other living space

manufactured alcoholic beverages

Hemp-infused meat, poultry or dairy products

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