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 In response to an attorney inquiry, the DEA recently confirmed that seeds and other parts of the cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent THC (the federal limit separating hemp and marijuana) have been legal since 2018’s Farm Bill ended federal hemp prohibition. Exploring the cannabis seed paradox: cultivators must break the law in order to obtain seeds to grow legal cannabis. Can this issue be fixed?
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.
Ask a Stoner: Buying Weed Seeds Is Legal Now?
Dear Stoner: I read a headline that the DEA had just now legalized weed seeds, but I’ve been ordering them to my house in the Springs for almost a decade. Have I been breaking federal drug laws this whole time?
Dear Mike: Short answer: Yes. But you can breath easy now, thanks to hemp.
I technically break federal drug laws almost every day after work and pretty much every weekend. We all do if we smoke, grow or possess cannabis, even in states that have legalized the plant. Federal pot laws had prohibited seeds, too, but prosecuting online seed banks in legal states or other countries was low on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s to-do list. Now that hemp is legal at the federal level, that federal priority has been crossed off entirely.
In response to an attorney inquiry, the DEA recently confirmed that seeds and other parts of the cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent THC (the federal limit separating hemp and marijuana) have been legal since 2018’s Farm Bill ended federal hemp prohibition. Hemp and marijuana are the same plant with different THC amounts in their blooming flowers, but neither hemp nor marijuana seeds exceed the 0.3 percent THC limit, so there’s virtually no legal difference in them at such an early stage. The DEA also confirmed that it would have nailed you had you been caught before hemp was legalized and that the resulting plants from said seeds are still quite illegal, so count your blessings.
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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.