In January 2022, an official at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quietly confirmed that, yes, cannabis seeds fall under the legal definition of hemp and, yes, they can be sold openly and without criminal liability.
Breeders and growers haven’t exactly taken the administration up on that suggestion yet, however. Holi Moli Seeds Has.
“Marijuana seed that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis meets the definition of ‘hemp’ and thus is not controlled under the CSA,” wrote Terrence Boos, chief of the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section of the Diversion Control Division of the DEA. The official determination invoked the regulatory language of the 2018 Farm Bill. Read Boos’s full letter below.
Boos was responding to a letter from Vicente Sederberg attorney Shane Pennington, who sought clarity on this matter.
“This is one of the areas that I get a lot of questions about,” Pennington told Cannabis Business Times, referencing the vagaries of seed and genetics sourcing in the industry. He felt that the 2018 Farm Bill, with its definition of hemp as any aspect of the plant containing less than 0.3% THC, should give licensed business buying and selling cannabis seeds some degree of cover—“and nobody believed me.”
So, he wrote a letter and sent it straight to the top brass at the DEA. He knew the DEA was under no obligation to answer him, but on Jan. 6 Boos penned his response.