Buying Cannabis Seeds
While some cannabis businesses focus on selling pre-processed products, others involve growing plants from seeds. States often allow their citizens to grow a certain number of marijuana plants for personal use without getting a license. However, commercial cannabis cultivation generally requires getting a license from the state and sometimes local regulatory authorities. Depending on the location and the scale of the operation, this process may be straightforward or exhaustive, but it is critical to comply with all applicable rules to ensure that your business operates within the law.
Rules frequently change in the cannabis industry as it continues to evolve. Moreover, operating in an industry that remains illegal under federal law can create pitfalls of which business owners should be aware. If you have questions about entering the area of cannabis cultivation, you may want to consult an attorney who has advised similar businesses.
Some people purchase these seeds for purposes unrelated to the cultivation and sale of marijuana. Traditional legitimate uses of cannabis seeds include bird food and fish bait. A state may allow its citizens to purchase cannabis seeds for these purposes, even if it does not allow them to purchase seeds for marijuana cultivation.
Purchasing Cannabis Seeds in Your State
A cannabis cultivator should try to buy seeds in their state if they can. For example, they should be able to get seeds from a seed company or dispensary. The cost tends to vary dramatically depending on the quality of the seeds. While some ordinary strains may cost less than $100, higher-quality strains may cost several hundred dollars. A purchaser of cannabis seeds should make sure that they buy seeds from a fully licensed and authorized provider, even if this results in greater costs. Employees or managers of a seed company or dispensary may be able to advise a purchaser on any legal compliance issues.
Purchasing Cannabis Seeds Outside Your State
If their state does not offer ideal options for purchasing cannabis seeds, a grower might consider purchasing them in another state that permits these transactions. However, the grower might face problems in bringing the seeds to their state. This is because the federal government still criminalizes marijuana. One of the federal marijuana crimes involves transporting the drug or substances related to it (such as seeds) across state lines, even if both the origin state and the destination state have legalized cannabis activities. Federal prosecutors do not often charge this crime in connection with marijuana businesses, but the risk remains.
Some cannabis cultivators even consider purchasing their seeds outside the US, such as in the Netherlands or another nation with a strong foothold in the international marijuana industry. When the seeds arrive in the US, though, immigration authorities likely will confiscate them because bringing marijuana-related substances into the US violates federal law. The law of the state where the flight arrived makes no difference to this outcome.
Some cannabis cultivators prefer to buy their seeds online through a seed bank. State law may permit online purchases and shipping, but again the cannabis seeds might be confiscated during transit. In rare situations, a cannabis cultivator might even face criminal charges under federal law. Enforcement in this area tends to be unpredictable and subject to frequent, radical policy changes.
Weed seeds may be legal to ship across the US, DEA says
Cannabis commercial and home growers alike may be able to get their seeds from all over the country now, and not have to worry about breaking federal law. Before, because of federal illegality, cannabis seeds have been restricted to the state in which they were produced, so a strain bred and grown in one state, legally, could not go beyond that state’s boundaries.
A recent legal clarification by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could mean that the seeds of cannabis strains popular in one part of the country could legally be shipped to another part of the country, because the DEA considers all forms of cannabis seeds to be federally legal hemp.
That means strains popular in mature markets like Washington, Oregon, and California could make their way to legal markets on the East Coast in Massachusetts and Maine, and soon-to-open markets like New Jersey and New York.
Marijuana Moment reporter Kyle Jaeger recently unearthed a letter from DEA officials that clarifies the definition of cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures, which could open up a whole range of possibilities for cannabis growers, and could spread a diversity of strains across legal markets all over the country, opening up the gene pool and leading to new trends and tastes in weed.
Are weed seeds illegal?
Right now, cannabis strains are somewhat isolated in the regions they are bred and created, as they can’t be transported beyond state lines. For example, even though recreational weed is legal at the state level in both California and Oregon, moving a plant from one of those states to the other is illegal at the federal level. This forces cannabis growers and breeders to operate within the confines of a specific state.
That’s not to say that a strain bred in California won’t end up in Oregon—it happens all the time, but it is technically illegal, according to federal law.
Many cannabis breeders and seed banks sell seeds throughout the US, but they operate in a legal gray area. Typically, seed producers say their seeds are sold for “novelty” or “souvenir” purposes, giving them a loophole to skirt the law.
If cannabis seeds are found in the mail, they could be seized and the sender or receiver arrested, however, the fact of the matter is that seeds are very difficult to detect. Cannabis seeds are usually less than a ¼” in diameter and don’t smell like weed. A packet of 10 seeds is about the size of four quarters stacked.
But all that might have changed in 2018 without anyone knowing.
Defining ‘source’ vs. ‘material’
In 2018, Congress passed a farm bill that legalized hemp in the US. It defined “hemp” as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. This allows hemp to be grown and used for industrial purposes—for creating textiles and materials. The 2018 bill also opened up hemp production for the creation of cannabinoids other than delta-9 THC, such as CBD, delta-8, and others.
Because CBD and delta-8 products are usually extracted from hemp plants, that is, cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC, they can be found in states that don’t have legal, recreational cannabis.
In November, Shane Pennington, counsel at Vicente Sederberg LLP in New York, wrote to DEA officials asking for clarification of the definition of a cannabis seed, clone, and tissue culture.
Cannabis seeds have always been deemed illegal because they come from plants that are high in THC. The source of the seeds is above 0.3% THC, and therefore anything that comes from those plants, such as seeds, has also been considered illegal cannabis.
Pennington argued that the source of the material doesn’t determine legality, but the material itself—meaning that because a cannabis seed itself contains less than 0.3% THC, it should be classified as hemp. If seeds are hemp, they are not a controlled substance—and are therefore federally legal.
“When it comes to determining whether a particular cannabis-related substance is federally legal ‘hemp’ or schedule I “marihuana,” it is the substance itself that matters—not its source,” Pennington wrote in a blog post.
Exotic Genetix Mike, founder of cannabis producer Exotic Genetix, said the DEA’s ruling “Is what we’ve always kind of practiced. [Seeds contain] less than 0.3% THC—they’re not a controlled substance.”
Mike welcomed the news: “It’s been clarified. Not just what we do is legal, but the money we make for doing it is also legal and not an illegal enterprise.”
What implications does this have for the weed industry?
If the DEA and federal government allow seeds to cross state lines, adults could grow and consume seeds and strains from all over the country in their own state. Certain strains would no longer be confined to a specific region, but could be enjoyed all across the nation.
“It’ll spark innovation, if people can bring it above ground, it can be regulated,” said Pennington in an interview with Leafly.
Regulation can bring more investment, a bigger industry, and more acceptance of the plant.
Breaking down transportation barriers across states would also open up the cannabis gene pool, giving breeders a bigger diversity of strains to work with. The number and diversity of new strains would likely increase, tapping into new consumer trends and flavors.
More strains also means that certain strains could be pinpointed and bred specifically for certain effects, whether for medical or recreational purposes.
But according to Pennington, perhaps the biggest implication is that “This sends a signal, clearly, to state legislators, state regulators, and to groups that lobby those folks… the federal law is more flexible than you assumed.”
States take their cue from the DEA when creating their own drug laws, so seeing the agency relax its stance on shipping cannabis genetics could cause states to follow suit, breaking down protectionist state laws.
This could also open up more accurate research on the plant, according to Pennington. For decades, cannabis research was limited to The University of Mississippi, which grew weed with a low potency, around 8% THC. However, most dispensaries sell cannabis with a THC percentage around 20%. Being able to ship genetics across the country would allow for more robust research into the plant, using strains that mirror what adults are actually buying in stores and consuming.
How binding is the DEA letter?
The DEA calls the letter an “official determination,” but whether or not they are legally bound to this position is a bit hazy.
“That to me sure seems like something the agency would either be bound to going forward or at least be very hesitant to deviate from in any kind of enforcement context,” said Pennington.
For now, the DEA’s acknowledgment that cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures are not controlled substances isn’t law, but it is a big step forward in relaxing restrictions on cannabis.
Can You Legally Buy Cannabis Seeds Online?
A substantial number of states allow medical marijuana, along with a growing number of places that have legalized recreational cannabis. The public is becoming more aware of the potential benefits of marijuana. People also realize that the damaging side effects of cannabis are often overstated, although some are real. Nonetheless, there is a softening in the stance towards the plant, which is even apparent on a political level.
As well as allowing people to use weed, an increasing number of states are relaxing restrictions on growing it at home.
You’ll need seeds to do so, but this is where it gets complicated for American residents in particular. Even if you live in California, where it is legal to grow cannabis at home, and purchase seeds from a Colorado-based seed bank, your package can STILL be confiscated.
Indeed, you could get in more trouble buying seeds from within the US than from an overseas country! This is the reason why most reputable seed banks that you hear about are located in Europe! This article delves deeper into the legality surrounding the purchase of cannabis seeds in the United States and offers tips to ensure you buy a high-quality product.
Marijuana Seeds Law
Cannabis remains a federally illegal substance in the United States. The plant’s seeds are also classified as cannabis, just like concentrate, flower, or edibles. As cannabis seeds are legal in certain states, seed banks operate within America’s borders. However, most of the best-known sellers operate in Canada or Europe. Let’s find out who can purchase seeds in the United States.
Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online in Any State?
As the nation’s cannabis laws state that the substance is federally illegal, it is technically against the law to buy, sell, or use it anywhere in the country. Indeed, the federal government could arrest someone for consuming cannabis if they so choose because federal law supersedes state law.
However, a majority of states allow medical marijuana, and a growing number permit adult-use cannabis. At present, the United States government has shown no indication that it wishes to interfere with a state’s right to legalize marijuana.
The current situation means you can legally get a cannabis seed from a dispensary in states where recreational cannabis is legal. In medical marijuana states, you’ll need to produce an MMJ card. Otherwise, you’re not allowed to purchase cannabis seeds.
Things are different online. It is illegal to transport cannabis seeds across state lines regardless of whether the plant is legal in both states. Therefore, you can only buy the seeds online if the seller is located within your state, and it is a location where adult-use marijuana is allowed.
Of course, you can take the risk of having your seeds confiscated by trying to order online anyway.
Is There Any Reputable American Seed Bank?
Although the United States is one of the world’s most progressive countries in marijuana legalization, the plant remains federally illegal. As long as this remains the case, users face all manner of complications. Ultimately, purchasing marijuana seeds online is only possible if you live in one of a select few states.
If you are concerned about legal issues, we recommend purchasing your seeds directly from a dispensary rather than buying them online. However, residents of Colorado should have no difficulties in theory. Stores such as The Farm and The Green Solution regularly advertise their online seed options. It should be a quick and easy process to buy them online if you are a resident of Colorado.
Elsewhere, it can be a matter of pot luck (pun intended). First and foremost, we can only recommend online seed purchases if you live in a state where growing marijuana at home is legal. If your package gets intercepted, you could face legal consequences, although this unfortunate situation is relatively rare.
You need a reputable seed bank capable of shipping to numerous states that understands the need for discretion. Such companies know how to package their goods to evade detection. If the seeds are confiscated, the firm will either send a new package for free or refund your money.
Which American Seeds Banks Are the Best?
California-based I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM) is one of the most trustworthy seed sellers we have found in the United States. The website and store are run by Robert Bergman, who is an expert marijuana cultivator. He offers dozens of options and provides FREE shipping to customers in the United States and Europe.
Rocket Seeds is another American seed bank with a positive reputation. It operates out of the Bronx, New York, and is famed for its rapid shipping.
There are numerous Canadian seed banks known for selling excellent products. Noteworthy brands include Crop Seed Kings, MJSeeds, and Beaver Seeds.
Certain online marijuana seed sellers in the United States try to use subterfuge to ensure their customers receive the seeds.
It is possible to buy seeds from stores only if they are ‘used’ as luxury bird food or fishing bait additives.
In February 2015, one month after cannabis legalization went into effect in Washington D.C., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign organized a ‘seed sharing’ event in the country’s capital. As part of the new law, anyone aged 21+ who attended the event was legally allowed to receive an ounce of seeds. Unfortunately, the laws surrounding purchasing marijuana seeds online in the US have remained as clear as mud in the years since.
European Marijuana Seed Banks
Many of the American seed banks that offer marijuana seeds source them from a seed bank in a European country. When we bemoan the issues that cause federal and state laws to become unclear and confusing, it is important to remember that the US is effectively a continent with 50 different states and additional territories.
Europe is also a continent, and it also has more than 50 countries. The laws surrounding marijuana seeds vary according to each nation but become less confusing because they are separate states. That’s not to say that things don’t become complex!
In principle, cannabis seeds are not illegal in Europe, and it is possible to purchase seeds from another country. In general, when a product enters a European country, it becomes subject to that nation’s laws. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, a 1962 framework for marijuana legalization, is an international treaty that was signed by 180 countries.
In the treaty, marijuana is classed as an illegal substance, but marijuana seeds are not illegal. As international law takes precedence over a country’s own laws, cannabis seeds are technically legal in all 180 countries. Alas, it isn’t as easy as that, and it is much safer to purchase seeds from one European country than another. Here’s a look at marijuana seed laws in a few major European nations:
- Germany: As seeds don’t fall under the German Narcotics Act, they are technically legal to purchase. However, Germany has prohibited the sale of cannabis seeds across the nation, the only EU member state to have done so. As Germany is subject to the EU’s free movement of goods, having seeds sent to Germany is fine.
- United Kingdom: At present, the UK allows for the purchase, sale, or trade of cannabis seeds whether you purchase them domestically or from another European nation. American buyers tend to use UK sellers such as Seedsman, who have been selling seeds globally since 2003. However, we’re not sure what will happen once the UK has left the EU. By the way, UK residents are not allowed to germinate cannabis seeds.
- Netherlands: It is shocking to learn that despite the nation’s relaxed attitude towards marijuana, it is still illegal! However, you should have no issue purchasing cannabis seeds from a Dutch-based seed company. Companies such as Nirvana, MSNL Seeds, and Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds also enjoy good reputations.
- France: Cannabis seeds are legal as long as they are not used for growing. However, you will struggle to find any reputable French cannabis seed dealer.
- Spain: Spain has a similarly lenient policy as the UK. Residents can buy and sell seeds as long as they are for personal use in private areas. Shops need legal authorization to sell seeds. Alicante-based Herbie’s Seeds is a highly rated seed bank.
Types of Marijuana Seeds Available
There are three distinct types of marijuana seeds.
Regular Marijuana Seeds
These seeds come from one female and one male parent. As a result, there is a 50/50 chance that the plant will be the feminized version that carries all of those wonderful cannabinoids. As you have no control of the plant’s gender, there is a chance that you’ll waste weeks waiting for the gender to be revealed.
Feminized Marijuana Seeds
You should purchase feminized seeds instead of their regular counterparts. These seeds have no male chromosomes and are guaranteed to provide resinous bud. In other words, you don’t have to wait for a guarantee which is NOT the case with ‘regular’ seeds.
Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds
This type of seed is your best option if you want to grow your weed indoors. These seeds have genetics that evolved in northern Eurasia which means they are strong and sturdy. They are mixed with Cannabis Ruderalis, a plant known for its ability to grow in harsh weather conditions.
One of the biggest advantages of autoflowering seeds is their ability to produce a minimum of two outdoor crops. When you grow them indoors, however, you can produce four or five crops per annum. Certain strains can become mature in just ten weeks! They are heavily resistant to mold and pests and produce a much higher yield when exposed to a powerful light source.
How to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online Safely
Your safest bet is to stick to one of the reputable seedbanks outlined in this article. Look for companies that have been in the industry for a long time and have earned a significant number of positive customer reviews.
When you purchase a packet of marijuana seeds, make sure the seller explains where the seeds came from and how they were crossed or backcrossed. Don’t risk your money on seeds with no history because there’s no way of telling what you’ll end up with.
The top-rated seed banks are old hands when it comes to getting their products through customs. Some of them offer discreet shipping, which usually involves hiding the seeds in other objects. Therefore, even if a customs official opens the package, it looks like someone else.
The perfect place for seeds…
For your part, it makes sense to make a few small or medium orders. First of all, a large order could draw unwanted attention. Secondly, if one of the packages is confiscated, you won’t lose your entire order.
Finally, you could consider paying via cryptocurrency. Digital currencies such as Bitcoin leave no official record. The issue here is that the volatility of crypto means your order could become expensive in hindsight. Imagine paying in Bitcoin, only to discover that the digital currency’s value doubles in the following two weeks!
Final Thoughts on Buying Marijuana Seeds Online
As much as we would love to provide a definitive answer to the title question, we have to admit that it is complicated. You can purchase seeds within most states where growing marijuana is legal, but the issue is clouded by the fact that marijuana is federally illegal. Then there is the small matter of the nuances of state and even local law.
You should be able to purchase from seed banks in the UK and Netherlands, but make sure you do your research and find a reputable company. The last thing you want is to buy what you think are feminized seeds, only to discover that they are regular seeds capable of producing male plants!
EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo
Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.
Will Customs Confiscate My Cannabis Seeds?
Yes, but only if they find them! Some reputable seed banks claim that customs confiscate only 5% of their shipments. A growing number of seed banks use discreet shipping. This involves sending additional ‘gifts’ you didn’t order to conceal the seeds. You’ll receive a confiscation letter instead of the seeds if your purchase is halted at customs. However, the top-rated seed banks tend to offer a money-back guarantee if this happens.
Is It Illegal to Send Seeds in the Mail?
As cannabis is federally illegal, transporting the plant’s seeds across state lines is against the law. This is the case even if you are sending them from one adult-use state to another. However, there is little chance of getting into legal trouble. For a start, it is possible to buy them for research or collectible purposes rather than using them to grow plants.
You’re more likely to get in trouble for sending marijuana seeds from one state to another in America than sending them into the US from abroad. However, it is rare to hear of anyone getting into legal trouble for sending cannabis seeds in the mail. Usually, the worst-case scenario is that your seeds are confiscated.
Why Are Most of the Top Seed Banks International?
It is mainly due to legal issues. The world’s best seed banks are generally located in places like the Netherlands, UK, and Spain, where marijuana laws aren’t as strict as in the United States. US cannabis law means an American seed bank faces greater legal issues when sending products from one state to another than their international equivalent.
However, there are a few high-quality American seed banks, such as I Love Growing Marijuana.
Can Non-Residents Buy Seeds Online?
It is not a good idea! As marijuana is federally legal, non-residents can be deported from the United States if they have a job in a legal cannabis dispensary! Indeed, even the use of legal marijuana can result in deportation. Therefore, we would urge non-residents NOT to purchase cannabis seeds online or in a dispensary. Even if there is a relatively small chance of being caught, it isn’t worth the risk.
Is Ordering Cannabis Seeds Online Safe?
The answer is ‘yes,’ but only as long as you buy the seeds from a reputable seed bank. Apart from I Love Growing Marijuana, MSNL Seed Bank, Crop Seed Kings, and Sensi Seeds have all established a reputation for high-quality seeds. These companies provide seeds with a high germination rate and offer an excellent range of strains.