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CBD products are popping up in stores throughout Iowa. But are they legal?

Beauty fans will try anything at least once.

From grocery stores to athletic clubs, CBD-based products are becoming increasingly common in Iowa.

But are they legal?

State authorities say CBD, or cannabidiol, is a derivative of marijuana and a controlled substance. Proponents of the substance say CBD products contain little or no THC, the chemical that makes recreational marijuana users high.

Merchants — and more than a few people who use their products — say CBD eases an array of maladies by working with nerve receptors in the body. They credit it with helping with anxiety, sleeplessness, pain, inflammation and, in children, epilepsy.

“I have less pain,” said Shelby Long, 27, who has used CBD gummies and a topical cream to help alleviate back pain and symptoms of eczema and tendinitis. “It’s like taking a Tylenol, but it’s better for your kidneys.”

CBD (Photo: Carly Mallenbaum)

The Des Moines woman said she thought U.S. lawmakers had legalized CBD products last year. She purchased gummies and cream from a shop on the city’s south side that sells glass pipes.

But this week, law enforcement in the tiny northeast Iowa town of Clermont searched T’s Brick City Spa for CBD products and confiscated items from the small establishment. They ordered the business, which offers massage, facial and skin treatments, to stop selling products containing CBD.

“If the law is the law then every sheriffs department should be dealing with this the same,” said Tanya Tysland, owner of T’s Brick City Spa. “I think Iowa really needs to quickly figure this out and stop harassing small business owners.”

Police in Muscatine and Carroll have conducted similar searches at other businesses and seized oils, lotions and candies that merchants touted as containing benign extracts from hemp plants.

“It has been a common misconception that CBD oil and any hemp derivatives are legal,” the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office wrote Wednesday in an online statement after the search at T’s Brick City Spa. “Iowa law still holds any derivatives from the cannabis sativa plant as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”

Fayette County Sheriff’s Office

If it’s illegal, why is CBD so easy to find?

Iowa lawmakers passed the first Medical Cannabidiol Act in 2014, making it legal for a doctor to prescribe CBD oil for the treatment of epilepsy.

The law was expanded in 2017 to add Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other conditions to the list of maladies the state says can be treated with CBD oil prescribed by a doctor.

Then, last year, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production of hemp containing less than .3 percent THC, and the use of hemp and its derivatives across state lines.

CBD supporters saw it as a major step, paving the way for CBD oils, lotions and creams to be used and sold in stores.

However, over-the-counter CBD products are still illegal in Iowa, and that won’t change until the Legislature decides to change the law or more direction on the Farm Bill comes from the federal government, said Dale Woolery, associate director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy.

“We don’t want to affect commerce, but we don’t want anyone getting sick or being impaired,” he said.

That leaves local police agencies and county attorneys to decide how strictly they enforce state law covering CBD products sold in stores.

The Des Moines Police Department’s narcotics unit has made seizures of CBD products — “some significant in quantity” — from stores, Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

But Des Moines police have not issued criminal changes, he said.

That’s also the case in Muscatine and Fayette counties, where authorities confiscated products but didn’t file charges.

CBD oil. (Photo: Tony Leys/The Register)

Growth of retailers selling CBD products in Des Moines

After 25 years spent supplying junk food, pop and chips to convenience stores, Tony Sparks founded Betterment Retail Solutions Inc., a West Des Moines-based company that brings CBD- and hemp-based goods to retailers.

His products include lip balms, cookie dough protein bars, bottled water, tincture (an herbal extract), mints and chocolate bars.

While Sparks said he knows his products can help people suffering from health ailments, the profitability of CBD products and the loose regulation in the state has brought out vendors willing to sell products even if they are unaware of the contents.

He said he wants lawmakers to legalize CBD for over-the-counter use and put rules and regulations in place to weed out bad actors.

“Until then, it’s the wild, wild west,” he said.

Lacie Navin, the owner of Your CBD Store in Urbandale, spent a Thursday afternoon answering questions about CBD bath bombs and tincture doses from middle-aged and elderly customers.

The professional photographer said she opened the CBD specialty store after her uncle, who suffers from chronic fibromyalgia, found relief from using the products.

Information kept at the counter of the Corner Store Apothecary in Cedar Rapids illustrates what supporters say are some of the potential benefits of CBD products. (Photo: Tony Leys/The Register)

“We were skeptical as most people are, and I watched it change his life,” Navin said.

She said she, too, is frustrated with the growing number of stores selling CBD items with little knowledge of the products or how they are used.

“I spend my days researching and looking at the newest formulations,” Navin said.

Popular chain stores like Natural Grocers and Fresh Thyme, and local favorites like Gateway Market and Campbell’s Nutrition, all carry CBD oil.

Diane Lahodny, owner of Campbell’s Nutrition, began carrying CBD years ago after learning about the health benefits. She tested the tinctures and lotions she sells, which typically range between .04 to .08 THC, she said.

She doesn’t expect to expand her products to include candies because of their sugar content, and because she’s unsure if they would pass her vetting process.

“We have daily feedback from people. Positive feedback,” Lahodny said. “Especially for relieving minor aches and pains and anxiety.”

Gateway Market started selling CBD water at its Woodland Avenue store in February.

“We wanted something more food driven,” store director David Clemens said. “I figured the infused water would be a good place to start.”

Clemens said he’s watched the CBD market grow in natural and health food stores and he wanted to try it out at Gateway Market. The store’s sold several cases of the bottled water since adding it last month.

He’s considered expanding the CBD offerings at Gateway, but products like gummies and chocolates are pricey, he said.

“The number of vendors manufacturing it is still pretty small,” Clemens said.

Even if the price is high, retailers are finding that customers are willing to shell out the money for a product they believe works.

“I don’t feel comfortable taking Tylenol and ibuprofen every day, because I already take a lot of other medications,” said Long, the Des Moines woman who uses gummies and cream.

The CBD products alleviate her back pain and help lessen symptoms of other issues, she said.

“It’s definitely not just a placebo effect.”

CBD oils can be prescribed to treat certain conditions in Iowa, but over-the-counter CBD products are illegal in the state.

Best CBD Oil in Iowa

Iowa is one of the best places to buy CBD in the Midwest, with stores in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport offering high-quality CBD at cheap prices, especially when compared to other states. As one of the fastest-growing health and wellness products on the market, hemp-derived CBD, or cannabidioil, offers recreational and health benefits, including stress reduction, anti-psychotic properties, and evidence of potential cancer prevention. Most importantly, hemp-derived CBD doesn’t contain intoxicating properties, so you can feel safe using it as an oil, lotion, edible, juice, tincture, or any other available form.

Is CBD Legal in Iowa?

Iowa is an interesting state when it comes to CBD. Medical marijuana use is legal in Iowa, but truly, this law only applies to marijuana-derived CBD oil that contains 3% THC or less. Actual cannabis is illegal for medicinal or recreational use in Iowa, and the possession of cannabis remains a criminal offense. This was written into the state’s law in 2014 with the Medical Cannabidiol Act. Marijuana-derived CBD that contains less than 3% THC is legal for medicinal use if a person has one of the qualifying conditions and a valid prescription from an Iowa physician. Lawmakers in the state are in the process of allowing more potent medical cannabis as of 2019. Marijuana-derived CBD is not recreationally legal at all, and this doesn’t appear to be changing soon.

Hemp-derived CBD is a different story. Hemp farming and research became legal in Iowa in May of 2019. The Iowa Hemp Act will allow farmers in Iowa, but the Department of Agriculture will need to draft a plan and submit it to the USDA. National legislation made hemp-derived CBD legal nationwide with the 2018 Farm Bill, as long as it contains less than .03% THC. Representative Jarad Klein stated that “the passage of this bill [Iowa Hemp Act] will explicitly make those hemp CBD products available for retail sale available in Iowa.” Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law, but there still seems to be some confusion. We recommend careful consideration when purchasing CBD in Iowa for the time being and consider shopping for your products at an Iowa-licensed dispensary. However, according to law, hemp-derived CBD is legal for recreational use and consumption.

Best CBD Shops in Des Moines

Conveniently located in West Des Moines, Great Alternatives II Vape Shop (411 Railroad Pl, West Des Moines, IA 50265) is a 5-star rated shop with premium e-liquid, Kratom, mods, tanks, and a range of high-quality CBD products, including CBD oils and multigrade capsule options available at four price points. Established in 2014, Great Alternatives emphasizes personal, friendly customer service. Whether you’re a first-time CBD buyer or longtime enthusiast, the knowledge staff is eager to help you navigate the selection to the find the best CBD product for your needs. The seven-days-a-week hours are nice too.

Best CBD Shops in Mount Vernon

Just outside of Cedar Rapids, Kae Apothecary (104 2nd Ave N, Mount Vernon, IA 52314) is a 5-star rated natural self-care shop, offering a variety of holistic products like sugar scrubs, beard oils, healing salves, candles, and organic hemp-derived CBD oils. Customer service is highly personable and friendly, and customers’ needs are treated on a tailored, case-by-case basis. Open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Best CBD Shops in Davenport

Davenport is one of the best places to buy CBD in Iowa, with four excellent shops worth highlighting.

East Village Vape Cafe (1203 Jersey Ridge Rd, Davenport, IA 52803) is one of Davenport’s go-to CBD shops, with a wide variety of grades and price points in CBD gummies, suckers, chocolate, tinctures, and more. You’ll also find premium Kratom, e-juices, Kava, and other alternative wellness goods. The staff is highly knowledgeable and happy to help customers find the best CBD products for their needs, whether they’re CBD novices or longtime enthusiasts. Return customers may be able to earn reward points, and don’t forget to check online for special discounts and vouchers. Open seven days a week.

Established in 2015, The Vapor Shop (2847 E 53rd St, Davenport, IA 52807) offers premium CBD oils and pens, vaporizers, e-juices, box mods, and more. Brand selection includes Aspire, Sigelei, Innokin, Kangertech, SmokTech, Wismech, IPZ, and Sense Herakles. Friendly and personal customer service is a major emphasis, and prices are always fair. Open seven days a week.

Yabba Dabbas House of Glass (3502 W Kimberly Rd, Davenport, IA 52806) was also established in 2015. In addition to high-quality CBD, the shop carries glass pipes, water pipes, and accessories. Open seven days a week.

Just across the Mississippi River, The Smoking Pipe Shop (109 2nd Ave W, Milan, IL 61264) sells Kratom, vape products and accessories, e-juices, concentrates, and premium CBD. Prices are affordable, and veterans, active military, and first responders get 10% off. Open seven days a week.

You can also find CBD Products online and have them shipped to you!

Best CBD Oil in Iowa Iowa is one of the best places to buy CBD in the Midwest, with stores in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport offering high-quality CBD at cheap prices, especially when