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"Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.” – Abraham Lincoln

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Are Marijuana Seeds Legal? YES

The DEA Acknowledged That Marijuana Seeds Are Legal to Own and Sell. So, What Does That Mean for the Industry?

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An official determination from the DEA could draw the cannabis genetics market into the mainstream—if that’s what breeders and growers want.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recognized cannabis seeds as hemp as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit of 0.3%. This clarification makes them legal under the 2018 Farm Bill and it means that seeds can be shipped legally to anywhere in the country, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for the spreading of the genetic diversity of cannabis across the nation’s markets.

November 1, 2022

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. 


U.S. DEA Official Determination On The Legality of Cannabis Seeds

Letter From DEA   

Drug Enforcement Administration 8701 Morrissette Drive Springfield, Virginia  22152legal letter from dea

cannabis seeds are leagal letter from dea

Published on April 7, 2022

Cannabis Seeds Are Legal

Marijuana might be federally prohibited, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has effectively acknowledged that the plant’s seeds are generally uncontrolled and legal, regardless of how much THC might end up being produced in buds if those seeds were cultivated.

DEA recently carried out a review of federal statute and implementing regulations in response to an inquiry from attorney Shane Pennington regarding the legality of cannabis seeds, tissue culture and “other genetic material” containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The agency affirmed that while it used to be the case that marijuana seeds were controlled—full stop—that’s no longer the case because of the federal legalization of hemp, as Pennington discussed in an edition of his On Drugs newsletter on Substack on Monday.

Following the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been excluded from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of marijuana, making it so all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. are uncontrolled as long as they don’t exceed 0.3 percent THC.

“Accordingly, marihuana 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,” Terrence L. Boos, chief of DEA”s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section wrote in the letter, dated January 6. “Conversely, marihuana seed having a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis is controlled in schedule I under the CSA as marihuana.”

Because both hemp and marijuana seeds generally contain nominal THC levels that wouldn’t exceed the legal threshold, DEA is essentially conceding that people can have cannabis seeds no matter how much THC the resulting plant might produce, as long as the seeds themselves contain less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC. Of course, it continues to be federally illegal to use any cannabis seeds with the intent of growing still-prohibited marijuana.

“In my view, the letter is significant because we continue to see confusion over the source rule—the argument that the legal status of a cannabis product hinges on whether it is ‘sourced’ from marijuana or hemp—influencing legislative proposals even at the federal level,” Pennington told Marijuana Moment.


“Now that we know that the legality of the ultimate ‘source’ of both hemp and marijuana plants (their seeds) hinges on delta-9 THC concentration alone, reliance on the source rule is much harder to defend,” Pennington said. “I’m hopeful this will clear up a lot of confusion in this area of law.”

Beyond seeds, the new DEA letter also clarifies that “other material that is derived or extracted from the cannabis plant such as tissue culture and any other genetic material 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.” 

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