The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota

cannabis business licensing Wisconsin Iowa Missouri Minnesota

Throughout the United States, cannabis legalization continues to progress. In some states, this means creating new medicinal markets. In others, it’s adding adult-use markets. In others yet, the latest news involves changes to existing cannabis licensing laws and regulations, and in some states, the only news is no new markets or changes.

To keep you up to date on the latest cannabis news, here’s our Midwest update for 2023. It includes information about cannabis business licensing in Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota.

Wisconsin Cannabis Business Licensing

State democrats continue to drive laws to legalize medical and adult-use cannabis. Drafted legislation has been co-written by state Sen. Melissa Agard and Rep. Darin Madison. “There was a time when alcohol was prohibited in Wisconsin and across our nation, and there was a time when margarine was prohibited. Prohibition does not work,” Agard said. She further noted “I’ve said this time and time again — we know that the most dangerous thing about cannabis in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal. For the past decade, I have worked to undo Wisconsin’s antiquated and deeply unjust marijuana policies and put our state on a prosperous path forward. This proposal will not only allow Wisconsin to right past wrongs, it will bring us in line with our neighbors and create countless opportunities to grow our economy and attract people to our state.”

The proposed bicameral legislation includes a measure to earmark 60 percent of cannabis tax revenue for areas that have been disproportionately affected by the cannabis ban. Also behind legalization is Gov. Tony Evers, who has voiced his commitment to legalizing cannabis before.

Iowa Cannabis Business Licensing

Although adult-use cannabis remains illegal in Iowa, there are products on the local market that grant a potent high. Beverages and gummies have proved to be particularly popular. This allowance is due to some variance in the laws for those holding Iowa cannabis business licensing.

Currently, CBD oils and products made from both industrial hemp and cannabis plants are legal. These items can be ordered online or purchased in-person in vape shops, natural food stores and registered dispensaries. However, recreational products containing THC derived from cannabis plants are not legal in Iowa. Only medical patients with an ID card may purchase vaporized and inhalable products with cannabis-derived THC, and these items must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Finally, inhalable flower of any kind is not allowed in Iowa.

Iowa cannabis business licensing procedures were recently highlighted by Andy Krieger with Greene Goods Market and Greenhouses. In order to grow and process hemp in Iowa into the edibles he sells, Andy had to secure three levels of licensing and his property and home are subject to random searches by the DEA. “As a grower, we’re completely open to having inspectors come in, whether it be the department of agriculture, or the department of inspections and appeals,” he said. “We’ve all kind of learned to dance together versus dancing apart.”

Missouri Cannabis Business Licensing

Missouri cannabis business licensing is booming, as the state awarded 48 cannabis microbusiness licenses to “marginalized or under-represented individuals.” Each of the Show-me state’s eight congressional districts were given two retail licenses and four wholesale facility licenses, for which the Division of Cannabis Regulation then selected licensees via a lottery involving over 1,600 applicants.

The applicants who did not receive licenses may request an application review or receive a full refund of fees. Another lottery for 48 licenses will take place in 2024 and 2025, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). To qualify, applicants must meet criteria such as a valid service-connected disability card issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs or live in a low-income community. Microbusiness licenses “are designed to allow marginalized or under-represented individuals to participate in the legal marijuana market,” according to the DHSS.

Minnesota Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis business licensing in Minnesota also experienced a fresh selection period. Before the closing date of October 1, more than 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs applied to be part of the state’s popular low-dose, hemp-derived market. Once selected, this new batch of registered businesses will face new regulations and taxation under Minnesota’s new recreational cannabis legalization law. The popularity of hemp low-dose products is often attributed to the minimal governmental oversight of the industry. Chris Tholkes, director of medical cannabis at the Minnesota Department of Health, was among those who expressed concerns early on. Since then, her office has taken over regulation from the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. She said she’s working now to educate as well as regulate.

“We’re really spending a lot of our time right now doing exactly that: educating folks,” she told MPR News recently. “We’re finding that retailers are welcoming us into their shops and that they are hungry for information about how they can be compliant with the law. We want to make sure that we have a safe, reliable cannabis marketplace. You want to ensure that consumers have a safe product, that what it says on the label is in the actual package and that people feel informed about the products that they are consuming.”

Learn More About Minnesota Cannabis Business Licensing and a Whole Lot More at CannaCon

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This article was originally published on June 7, 2019. It has been updated on October 24, 2023.


  1. Vladica on July 24, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Is medical marijuana growing allowed in Wisconsin.?

  2. Steve on January 7, 2023 at 7:01 am

    you need to be licensed grower ,USDA .

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