Cannabis growers, whether commercial or hobbyist, can now source their seeds nationwide, without fear of breaking federal law.
Previously, due to the federal illegality of cannabis, cannabis seeds (or clones) were restricted to the state in which they were produced, so a strain grown legally in one state could not exceed the borders of that state.
Of course, strains grown in California can very easily cross into the neighboring state of Oregon, but that’s technically illegal under federal law.
A recent legal clarification of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could mean that seeds of cannabis strains popular in one part of the country could be shipped legally to another part of the country, as the DEA considers all forms of cannabis seeds to be federally legal hemp.
Marijuana Moment reporter Kyle Jaeger recently revealed a letter from DEA officials that clarifies the definition of cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures.
A change dated 2018
In 2018, the US Congress passed a farm bill that legalized hemp in the United States. The law defines “hemp” as any Cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC. This allows hemp to be grown and used for industrial purposes – to create textiles and materials – food and for “minor” cannabinoids such as CBD, delta-8 and others.
Last November, Shane Pennington, an attorney at Vicente Sederberg LLP in New York, wrote to DEA officials asking for clarification on the definition of a cannabis seed, clone and tissue culture.
Cannabis seeds have always been considered illegal because they come from plants with a high THC content. The source of the seeds is over 0.3% THC, and therefore anything from these plants, such as the seeds, has also been considered illegal cannabis.
Shane Pennington argued that it is not the source of the material that determines 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 the 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’s the substance itself that counts, not its source. wrote Mr. Pennington in a blog post, which was confirmed by the DEA.
For now, the DEA’s recognition that cannabis seeds, clones and tissue cultures are not controlled substances does not have the force of law, but it is a big step in easing cannabis restrictions.
Beyond the subject of seeds, this discovery could open up a whole range of possibilities for cannabis growers, and could spread a diversity of strains to legal markets across the country, and even outside, opening up the gene pool and leading to new trends and tastes in weed.
It could also pave the way for more specific research on the plant. For decades, cannabis research was confined to the University of Mississippi, which grew low-THC (around 8%) weed. However, most dispensaries sell cannabis with a THC percentage of around 20%.
The ability to ship genetics across the country would allow for further research into this plant, using strains that mirror what adults actually buy and consume in stores.