The Drug Enforcement Agency says the 2018 Farm Bill effectively removed cannabis seeds from the Controlled Substances Act. Why is this declaration for marijuana seeds and legal hemp so significant? Read more…
DEA Confirms Marijuana Seeds Are Federally Legal in the US
A recent review by the federal drug agency has cleared the controversial issue: cannabis seeds are no longer controlled.
If you’re one of those growers in the United States who worry that by getting marijuana seeds in your mail you break some federal law, you can relax now, and the good news comes from unlikely quarters – the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Recently, the DEA had to reply to an inquiry from attorney Shane Pennington regarding the legality of cannabis seeds at the federal level. The agency admitted that before 2018, buying, selling, or possessing weed seeds would get you in trouble if you were caught. However, the 2018 Farm Bill made a distinction between marijuana and its non-psychoactive counterpart, hemp, and legalized the latter. And since there’s no clear-cut difference between seeds of either variety, all are legal now.
The Source No Longer Matters
Hemp is defined as a cannabis plant whose various parts contain no more than 0.3% THC. Obviously, the highest concentration of THC within cannabis is in flowers while seeds may contain only trace amounts and probably only on the hulls that were not washed properly. The embryos inside the hulls don’t need THC for any vital processes, so they don’t contain it. And this is true regardless of whether a seed came from a hemp flower or a high-potency marijuana bud.
Before, there was a lot of legal confusion around the argument of the ‘source’ of seeds. For those who still wanted to treat marijuana seeds as contraband, them being a high-THC variety (as stated on the pack, for example) was grounds for confiscation. But according to the DEA, it’s not.
Federal Law Still Hard Not to Break
If buying and possessing seeds of THC-rich marijuana strains is technically legal, it is only to collect them or give them to someone as a present, etc. Germinating these seeds is still illegal under federal law. Also, the feds make no distinction between those who live in a state where personal cultivation of cannabis is allowed or where it’s still prohibited.
However, the same is also true of possession and use. Even if state-wide legislation allows it, if you’re a cannabis smoker, you’re still breaking the federal law every day of your life. The good news is that going after ‘potheads’ in legal states is the lowest priority for the feds, and for cannabis seeds, as it turns out, the priority is non-existent.
DEA Declares Marijuana Seeds Below THC Limit are Legal Hemp
https://greenlightlawgroup.com. A January letter from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) revealed its official stance that marijuana seeds with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration lower than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are considered hemp and are not controlled under the Controlled Substances Act. This declaration is significant because a marijuana product’s legality was previously thought to be determined by whether it was sourced from marijuana or hemp. This new guidance establishes that the legality of marijuana seeds, tissue culture, and other genetic material depends solely on delta-9 THC concentration.
Guidance on marijuana seeds
The 2018 Farm Bill excluded hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)’s definition of marijuana, lifting control on all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., so long as such parts don’t exceed 0.3% delta-9 THC concentration. Shane Pennington, a New York attorney, wrote to DEA requesting the control status of Cannabis sativa L. seeds, tissue culture, and other genetic material of the plant under the CSA. In response, DEA conducted a statutory review of the CSA and its implementing regulations and determined that legality, and thus control status, hinges on delta-9 THC concentration.
Thus, marijuana seeds with a delta-9 THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis meet the definition of hemp and are not controlled under the CSA. Conversely, marijuana seeds with a delta-9 THC concentration above 0.3% on a dry weight basis constitute marijuana, which remains a Schedule I substance under the CSA.
Both hemp and marijuana seeds generally contain nominal THC levels that do not exceed 0.3%, however, this doesn’t guarantee that the resulting plant’s THC level will also fall below the threshold. By differentiating solely on the seeds’ THC concentration, it follows that DEA’s letter may have implied that individuals can legally possess what otherwise would be considered marijuana seeds, so long as the seeds have less than 0.3% THC. However, DEA’s guidance fails to address whether people may possess marijuana seeds and avoid criminal prosecution under the CSA if the plants produced from such seeds were to exceed the permitted THC concentration. Keep in mind that despite the laws in your state, it remains federally illegal to use any cannabis seeds with the intent of growing marijuana. Additionally, the DEA’s letter is only guidance without the full force and effect of the law or of official DEA regulation.
In addition to guidance on marijuana seeds, DEA again relies on the delta-9 THC concentration to clarify the control status of other material derived or extracted from the cannabis plant, such as tissue culture and other genetic material. This guidance mirrors that of marijuana seeds, namely that if such material has a delta-9 THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis, that material constitutes hemp and is not controlled under the CSA. Conversely, material that exceeds the 0.3% delta-9 THC limit constitutes marijuana, which remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA.
Watch this space for more updates on all things cannabis, CBD, hemp, and psilocybin.
You can contact Allison Campbell at [email protected] or 503-488-5424.