Exploring the cannabis seed paradox: cultivators must break the law in order to obtain seeds to grow legal cannabis. Can this issue be fixed? Last month marked the start of the typical marijuana grow season, which runs March through November, which meant individuals and large cannabis firms in — April 21, 2019 The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recognised cannabis seeds as hemp as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit of 0.3%. This clarification
The Cannabis Seed Paradox: Breaking The Law To Grow
You’ve seen our physicians at Green Health Docs . You have your certification. You’ve registered with the state and gotten proper authorization to grow medical cannabis at home. But then comes the cannabis seed paradox!
Find out what the cannabis seed paradox is below. And how cultivators get around it. (Hint: they break the law)
The Cannabis Seed Paradox
Once you have your home cultivation authorization, it’s time to start growing medical cannabis . But there’s one small hitch. Where the hell does one get seeds?
Well, here’s the rub. Seeds are illegal. That is, it is illegal under federal law to move cannabis across state lines. This includes full grown plants, clones, seedlings or even seeds themselves. Yup, you read that right. Home cultivators will need to do something illegal in order to grow legal medical cannabis.
Some clinics and cultivation businesses may offer seeds for free, a quick and easy way for patients to bypass this hurdle. But literally thousands of Missouri medical marijuana patients will be stuck searching for places to buy seeds. And regardless of legality, many patients will try to buy or order seeds online in order to get a specific strain that caters to their medical needs.
Selling Seeds is Illegal, Online or in Missouri
Even retailers are walking a thin line when it comes to selling cannabis seeds in Missouri. Proper state authorization is required in order to sell cannabis products, like dry flower, edibles or oils . Products can only be sold to state medical marijuana patients. Seeds will likely not be sold in medical marijuana dispensaries, though that’s a possibility at some point.
Anyone selling seeds outside the medical marijuana arena is likely doing so without legal authorization. This puts their business at risk for penalty or punishment if caught.
Seeds sold online are typically sold in states or countries where cannabis is legal. However, shipping seeds in the mail is a federal crime. If you’ve ever been burned by purchasing seeds online, chances are your seeds were simply confiscated by authorities before making their way to your door.
Seeds online are also a crap-shoot. You may get that award-winning strain, or you may get some messed up hybrid that gives you the jitters. And worse, you won’t know until harvest. Buying online isn’t the best way to get seeds, but sometimes it’s the only option from some cultivators.
Bypassing the Law?
Even large scale cultivators will face the cannabis seed paradox. In order to begin their grows, they must either bring in seeds or clones from another state or country. As cannabis is still illegal under federal law, crossing the border or state lines constitutes of federal felony. Getting caught could result in severe legal punishment, possibly even jail time.
And yet, cultivators grow cannabis in every state with an active marijuana program. That means the law was broken with no real consequence. Seeds, after all, are fairly innocuous and difficult to detect. A pack of seeds could fit into a wallet, or even a small envelope with no trouble whatsoever. Seeds give off little to no smell, and are largely indistinguishable from hemp seeds. It is a crime to move seeds across state lines, but it’s an undetectable crime that doesn’t harm anyone. This is likely why it goes unpunished.
Clones, on the other hand, are far easier to detect. Cannabis has a smell beginning around the first few leaves. The smell is surprisingly dank by this stage. Moving clones across state lines is a much riskier endeavor. Many cultivators will risk it, however, as it greatly speeds up the time to harvest. This means that patients get medical cannabis in their dispensaries much faster.
Legalizing Cannabis Seeds
Even if the federal government decides not to reschedule cannabis, removing it from the list of the most restricted drugs in the country, something must be done about the cannabis seed paradox. This issue affects every single state with a medical marijuana or recreational marijuana program.
Ohio faced this issue when their program launched in 2016. Maryland also faced this paradox a year earlier with their program. And this same paradox struck Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The list goes on…
Legalizing cannabis seeds and clones for authorized businesses and medical marijuana patients makes sense. It allows the federal government to properly track each sale of cannabis seeds and clones. This gives them a better sense of what is moving where, and when. This could also lead to better tracking of black market cannabis.
And let’s be real. Legalizing cannabis seeds and clones allows safe passage for those seeds and clones, and the employees entrusted with the task of moving them. There are a lot of noble botanists trying their best to bring good quality cannabis to medical marijuana patients. But those heroes are putting a lot on the line when moving seeds across state lines or borders. Legalization would protect them and allow these employees to do their job more efficiently.
Legal Seeds for Patients
Patients with proper home cultivation authorization should also be allowed to purchase and transport seeds or clones across state lines from authorized retailers. Full stop.
Seed and clone tracking, if necessary, could be done through the same database established for tracking medical marijuana purchased in the state at dispensaries. The state could even regulate high potency strains, if such a thing were cause for alarm.
Regardless, a medical marijuana patient deserves the freedom to legally grow their cannabis, and one of those stages is buying the actual plant itself. If a patient is allowed to grow cannabis, they should be allowed to buy cannabis seeds. The whole process should be legal, from seed to medication.
Getting Your Certification
In order to grow cannabis at home, a qualifying patient must first get a certificate to use medical cannabis. You can do so by seeing one of our licensed medical marijuana physicians at Green Health Docs in Missouri . They can help you get certified, and our support team can walk you through the home cultivation application process. To get started, simply call 1-877-242-0362 today! Patients can obtain a card either in-person at our Missouri clinics, or through online.
Legal Issues in Selling Cannabis Seeds in California
Last month marked the start of the typical marijuana grow season, which runs March through November, which meant individuals and large cannabis firms in California were on the hunt for high-quality seeds for purchase on the legal market. Cannabis seeds are at the core of the California marijuana industry, and the internet can connect farmers from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond to the growing demand.
But are sales of cannabis seeds legal? Some growers serve both the grey and legal market marijuana seeds.
As the legal cannabis market has expanded, selling cannabis seeds has become more commonplace, especially as consumers’ tastes become more refined. Still not all cannabis seed sales are lawful.
Genetic Seed Variations Can Be Protected Intellectual Property
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers recognize there is great diversity in seed genetics, and advise companies to seek counsel before arranging any kind of retail sale or transport.
Many marijuana growers pride themselves on their extensive knowledge of marijuana growth, which obviously begins with the seed. The three basic types of cannabis seeds are regular, autoflowering and female, with each containing broad subtypes, often referred to as “strains.” Many cannabis cultivators pride themselves on various elements of the strains they grow, as the effects can vary widely depending on seed properties. Certain strains are better for those seeking medicinal relief, while others are better for creating various degrees of intoxication and still others for a distinct taste. Growers are increasingly asserting intellectual property rights, something all cultivators should discuss with their cannabis business attorney.
Cannabis Seed Sales and California Law
Laws pertaining to sales of marijuana seeds or associated products vary a great deal in the U.S. and beyond, in part because there is a general lack of understanding on how they should be defined. Some consider seed sales ancillary to the cannabis market, but the reality is because these are part of the cannabis plant (or rather, its origins) these too are controlled.
Generally speaking, cannabis seeds can be lawfully purchased by adults states with legal adult recreational use (like California) either at a dispensary or online intrastate (meaning not purchased from another state – even one that has also legalized the drug). The reason for this restriction is that interstate sales fall under the purview of federal law, which still considers marijuana a dangerous narcotic.
Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries routinely sell pot seeds over-the-counter, and cost is roughly $12 for a pack of 10, though higher-end strains can run several hundred dollars. Dispensary options are limited compared to what one might find online at a California cannabis seed bank.
The California Cannabis Control Board in accordance with Prop. 64 caps the maximum number of cannabis plants that can be grown by an individual at any given time at six. That assumes you’re over 21 and aren’t doing so in a community that has a local ordinance banning or further restricting such cultivation.
Those selling cannabis seeds in California, either in-store or online, need to be certain procedures are in place to prevent sales to restricted buyers (mostly minors).
Buying, selling or transporting those seeds out-of-state though is where things can get dicey.
International Weed Seed Sales
Internationally, many countries don’t restrict or regulate cannabis seed sales, as the seeds have a myriad of benign uses. These can include production of clothing material, oils and food for animals/fishing bait.
However, other countries are much more strict about what can be imported and for what purpose. Los Angeles cannabis lawyers strongly advise anyone conducting international sales of any cannabis product to consult with an attorney. Failure to do so could affect your pocketbook (if customs in another country refuses to allow your shipment to reach its final destination). However, it can also draw the attention of U.S. law enforcement agents, with the possibility of criminal charges.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Marijuana seeds are legal in the U.S. as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit for hemp
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recognised cannabis seeds as hemp as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit of 0.3%. This clarification makes them legal under the 2018 Farm Bill and it means that seeds can be shipped legally to anywhere in the country, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for the spreading of the genetic diversity of cannabis across the nation’s markets.
Marijuana may currently be banned by the federal government, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has effectively recognised that the plant’s seeds are legal, regardless of how much THC they may end up producing when grown.
This means that cannabis growers can get their seeds from anywhere without having to worry about breaking federal law. Previously, and due to the federal ban, cannabis seeds were restricted to the state where they were produced, so a variety bred and grown in one state couldn’t legally go beyond the limits of that state.
The DEA recently conducted a review of the federal statute in response to a query from attorney Shane Pennington, who inquired about the legality of cannabis seeds and cuttings, and tissue cultures or ‘other genetic material’ containing no more than 0.3% THC.
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was excluded from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which means that currently all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant are not controlled, but only as long as they don’t exceed 0.3% THC.
“As a result, those marijuana seeds with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3% in dry weight meet the definition of ‘hemp’ and are therefore not controlled by the CSA”, states Terrence L. Boos, head of the DEA’s Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, in a letter dated 6th January 2022. This comment was made in response to the issues raised by Shane Pennington, who has an extensive history of litigation against the agency on cannabis matters and drug policy.
Both hemp and marijuana seeds generally contain low THC levels, which don’t exceed the legal threshold, and so the DEA essentially permits the purchase of cannabis seeds, no matter how much THC the resulting plant may produce, provided the seeds themselves contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.
Nevertheless, it’s important to say that the use of any cannabis seeds with the intention of growing marijuana remains illegal at federal level, since the plant is still banned.
Was it illegal to sell marijuana seeds before?
Until now, cannabis strains have been isolated in the regions where they have been created or where they’ve arrived from other countries, as they couldn’t be transported beyond state borders. For example, although recreational marijuana is legal state-wide in both California and Oregon, moving a plant from one of those states to another is illegal at federal level. This forces cannabis growers and breeders to operate within the limits of the state.
Many cannabis breeders and seed banks sell seeds throughout the U.S. but operate in a legal ‘grey area’. Generally, the labels show that the seeds are sold as a collector’s item or a souvenir, which provides a way to circumvent the law. But if authorities find cannabis seeds in the mail, they may seize them and arrest the sender or recipient, although this is not common. However, all of that could have changed in 2018 without anyone actually knowing about it.
Definition of ‘source’ as opposed to ‘material’
In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed a Farm Bill for the legalisation of hemp in the country. ‘Hemp’ was defined as any cannabis plant with a THC level below 0.3%. With this bill, hemp can be grown and used for industrial purposes. The 2018 bill also permits hemp production for the creation of cannabinoids other than THC, such as CBD or delta-8 THC.
Cannabis seeds have always been considered illegal because they come from plants with high THC levels. As the source of the seeds has THC levels over 0.3%, anything that comes from those plants (including the seeds) has also been considered illegal cannabis.
But in November 2021, Shane Pennington, attorney at the law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP in New York, wrote to DEA officials asking for clarification on the definition of growing cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures. Mr. Pennington argued that it’s not the source of the material but the material itself that determines its legality, which means that a cannabis seed with less than 0.3% THC should be classified as hemp. And if the seeds are hemp, then they’re not a controlled substance, and are therefore legal at federal level.
What implications does this have for the cannabis industry?
If the DEA and the federal government permit seeds to move freely across the country, anyone would then be able to grow seeds from anywhere in their own state and certain strains would no longer be confined to a specific region. This could potentially trigger interest in investment, the development of a larger industry, and greater acceptance of the plant, as well as the expansion of the area of genetic innovation. The removal of transportation barriers between states would open up the genetic pool of cannabis, which would in turn provide breeders with a greater diversity of strains to work with.
According to Pennington, the federal law seems to be more flexible than expected, and so perhaps the biggest implication is that this sends a clear signal to state regulators. In fact, DEA officials last year clarified to the regulatory authorities that delta-8 THC, an increasingly popular psychoactive cannabinoid, was also not a controlled substance under existing law, because the 2018 Farm Bill that legalised hemp doesn’t explicitly prohibit THC isomers.
The states follow the DEA’s lead by creating their own drug laws, so watching the government agency relax its stance on cannabis seeds could get these states to do the same, thereby breaking protectionist state laws.
However, it’s important to highlight that, even though the DEA calls it ‘an official determination’, it is still not entirely clear whether they are legally bound to this position. For now, the DEA’s recognition that seeds, cuttings, and cannabis tissue cultures are not controlled substances is not a law, but it does signify a big step forward in easing the restrictions on marijuana.
Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.
Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.
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