How to Buy Cannabis Seeds Legally

Buyer Beware: Purchasing Cannabis Seeds Online Is Illegal.

cannabis seeds iStock / JensGade

Don’t let the frigid temperatures discourage you—spring is on its way.  That means it’s time to prepare for your outdoor garden. Here’s all you need to know about buying cannabis seeds as you plan for the grow season.     

Until Federal Prohibition is Lifted, Buying Cannabis Seeds is Illegal

Let’s set the record straight. As of now, you can’t buy cannabis seeds legally. That’s even true in states that have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use. Until Federal prohibition is lifted, the specter of national anti-cannabis law hovers over every single cannabis transaction. It’s just that some cannabis transactions are more likely to be prosecuted by the Feds than others.

So when a friend of mine told me that her favorite Colorado dispensary purchased its cannabis seeds from Florida, I was perplexed. Large inter-state cannabis exchanges are exactly the kind of transactions that would get the wrong kind of attention. Sure, cannabis is legal for adult personal use in Colorado and for medicinal use in Florida, but it remains illegal at the national level. That means that the export of cannabis seeds from one state to another, regardless of each state’s cannabis laws, can result in federal criminal prosecution.

Actually, that means that any transaction involving cannabis is technically illegal as far as the US Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned.  There was a time when the Federal government announced that enforcing cannabis laws in cannabis-legal states would not be a priority. Then former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that statement making it clear that enforcing prohibition was still at the top of the DEA’s agenda. Even though Sessions is gone, it isn’t clear that the new AG won’t feel the same way that Sessions felt about weed.

Sessions is bad for the cannabis industry

For Now, It’s Probably Okay to Buy In-State Cannabis Seeds.

Despite this state vs. Federal government kerfuffle, you’re probably safe to buy cannabis seeds from a source located in your town or state if you abide by your state and local government’s regulations. But state laws vary (and some municipalities have even stricter rules than their states do) so don’t make any assumptions. Check out the rules published by your state’s cannabis regulators.

You have a few legal options if you’re obtaining your cannabis seeds locally.

Dispensary. This is the safest option, but it is also the most limited. Dispensaries do sell cannabis seeds, but you’re likely to only have a few options to peruse since they have an array of products other than seeds to get off their shelves. 

Friend. If your buddy has been growing cannabis and keeping their seeds, ask them if they’ll donate a batch to you. Keep in mind that it is illegal for them to actually sell the seeds to you unless they have a cannabis retail license. You’ll also want to make sure that your state and municipality allows this kind of exchange.

Cannabis festival. Lots of vendors at these kinds of events sell cannabis seeds for publicity and to make some fast cash. If you want to have fun, check out a huge variety of producers, and possibly bag some free goodies, definitely check out a cannabis festival. 

Marijuana farmers market. Find out if the local producers come together to sell their cannabis seeds. Make sure that the event is registered with the local government, though. 

buying cannabis seeds at a farmer's market

iStock / arkanto

Buying Cannabis Seeds From Out of State Can Get You in Trouble.

Say you live in a state that has legalized cannabis, but you want to buy cannabis seeds online through an out of state dealer who produces in a state/country that has also legalized cannabis. Is this lawful? The answer is, definitely not. Yes, that is a very popular way of buying cannabis seeds, and it’s one of the best ways of getting high-quality cannabis seeds from a seed bank. Vendors justify these online sales by claiming that they are selling the seeds for novelty purposes rather than for cultivation. Also, it’s tough for the feds to actually intercept online transactions because that kind of enforcement is expensive, and it is rare that the average consumer is purchasing enough cannabis seeds for it to really be worth it.

Even so, inter-state activity is under fed jurisdiction, so buying cannabis seeds from out of state online is indisputably subject to federal prosecution. It is illegal to transport cannabis from one state to another through mail, so there isn’t even a legal recourse through which to receive an out of state purchase.

Let’s try another scenario. You just flew to Colorado for a weekend getaway and bought cannabis seeds you want to take home with you so that you can start your own grow. You live in Washington state. Is this a legit plan? Sorry, but no. It is illegal to carry cannabis on an airplane. The situation isn’t better if you drove because it is also illegal to carry cannabis across state lines. States and the Feds are on the same page there—state laws prohibit their residents from taking weed over their borders.

Realistically, people break all of these rules for a variety of reasons. They’re frustrating. They’re counterintuitive. Folks just don’t even know they are the rules because of how silly they are.  Even so, they are the rules, and it won’t be pretty if you get caught breaking them.  The minimum penalty for a first offense includes a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Here’s the tea. If your cannabis purchase requires the seeds (or any cannabis product) to cross state lines, you’re breaking an outdated and ineffective law that, unlike a local purchase, is likely to be prioritized by the feds. If you buy your cannabis seeds from a local licensed vendor, however, you’re at least abiding by your state’s laws, and it is highly unlikely that you will have to deal with the US DEA.

   

How to Buy Cannabis Seeds Legally was last modified: by
Dianna Benjamin
About Dianna Benjamin
Dianna Benjamin is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability--yet constant pursuit--to get it right.