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How to Start a Medical Marijuana Manufacturing Business in Iowa 2020

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In Iowa, the Medical Cannabidiol Act was enacted in May 2017 which directed the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) to administer the medical marijuana program in the state. The law authorized IDPH to license up to two medical cannabidiol manufacturers.

The first license was issued to Medpharm in December 2017, while the second license was granted to Iowa Relief in June 2018. However, just recently, one manufacturing license became available as Iowa Relief relinquished its license in June of this year. So a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued by IDPH to solicit applications to award 1 new manufacturing license to applicants right now.

If you’re serious about starting a marijuana business in Iowa you should check out the How To Get Started In The Medical or Recreational Marijuana Industry package to understand everything you need to know and do, from start to finish, to make this a reality.

Here’s a straightforward guide to help you start a marijuana manufacturing business in Iowa.

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Find a Compliant Location

You’ll need to find a compliant business location that meets the state, county, and city zoning regulations.

Applicants must provide a completed Proper Zoning Form, providing proof of approval from the municipality of their proposed manufacturing facility location. Applicants who do not submit a completed Proper Zoning form with their application by submission date will be rejected.

This is one of the biggest make-or-break items that will directly impact whether you will get licensed, so ensure you get this right the first time or prepare for massive headaches later on if your location falls through or isn’t compliant.

Create a Marijuana Manufacturing Business Plan

You will be required to include in your application a manufacturing business plan that addresses the following items (our business plans includes all of them):

  • SWOT Analysis

  • Market Analysis

  • Steps and Timeframes for becoming operational by July 1, 2021

  • Proposed production capacity by July 1, 2021

  • Anticipated product release dates of the proposed products

  • Pricing

  • Estimated monthly revenues and expenses for the first 2 years

  • Financial Plan

  • Business Continuity Plan

  • How the business will contribute to maintaining competitiveness and social equity in the states medical marijuana program

Manufacturing License Application

Here is a summary of the manufacturing license application process in Iowa:

Step 1

Submit Letter of Intent to Apply via email to [email protected] The deadline for submission is October 9, 2020, by 4:00 p.m. (local time), with the subject line “Medical Cannabidiol Manufacturer RFP Intent to Apply.”

Step 2

Submit written questions related to the RFP via electronic mail to [email protected] no later than the due dates specified for each round.


The Department will prepare written responses to all pertinent, timely, and properly submitted questions. Responses will be posted on the Department website under Funding Opportunities as a PDF document. The Department’s written responses will be considered part of the RFP.

Step 3

Make sure to meet the minimum requirements for manufacturing license:

  • License effective dates and annual fees – Initial license will be valid from November 20, 2020, through November 30, 2021 and must begin supplying medical cannabis to dispensaries no later than July 1, 2021. At this time, annual fees for Year 1 are payable by December 1, 2020, and are anticipated to be $80,000.

  • License Effective Area – the manufacturing license is effective in the entire state of Iowa.

  • Employee Background Checks – A medical marijuana manufacturer shall not employ a person who is under eighteen years of age or who has been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense. All employees shall be subject to a background check investigation.

  • Inspections and Product Standards – A medical marijuana manufacturer shall be required to contract with the State Hygienic Laboratory or an independent medical cannabidiol testing laboratory to perform testing of content, contamination, and consistency of the products.

  • Secure Sales and Inventory Tracking System – A manufacturer shall select an inventory control software that is capable of integrating with the IDPH inventory system so that all required data can be sent to and maintained by the department.

Step 4

Prepare the Final Application. Only applicants that submit a pre-application/intent to apply by the identified deadline will be notified to submit a final application.

Here are some of the required forms and sections you’ll need for the final application:

All narrative responses are limited to a total of 200 pages. This page limit does not include Mandatory Certification Forms, Operating Procedures, Floor Plans, and any other document required or suggested.

Step 5

Final Application must be submitted on or before October 23, 2020, at 4 pm local Iowa time. A complete application package must include:

  • One (1) original and two (2) paper copies of the application, inclusive of all required information, with each application single-sided and securely bound.

  • One CD containing a complete electronic version of the entire paper/original application. The electronic version must be inclusive of all required information, in a searchable PDF file format. All documents listed in the CD must match the original and copies submitted.

  • One cashier check made out to the Iowa Department of Public Health for $7,500 as payment of the non-refundable application fee.

That’s it! We hope you found this article helpful.

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