US Cannabis legality Map

Can I Legally Buy Cannabis Seeds in the US?

For years, the answer to this would have been a flat no. But, as Dylan correctly pointed out, ‘the times- they are a changing’ and the last few decades have seen seismic shifts in worldwide cannabis law.

Four countries have legalized recreational use, it has been decriminalized in eight and legalized for medical use in twenty-two. It is a time of positivity and progress for cannabis growers and consumers alike. What better way to celebrate the ‘changing times’ than by cultivating your own crop of chronic?

Unfortunately, even today the legality of this pastime is not always clear. Nowhere is this truer than in the US, where state and federal laws often contradict each other leaving cannabis retailers and consumers dazed and confused.

Let’s take a close look at federal and state law and give you all the information you need to make an informed choice about buying your own seeds.  

What Does the Federal Law Say?

According to federal law, cannabis and cannabis seeds are illegal. The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, and this still stands today.

In 2013 a memo was issued by the Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole stating that there would be no justice department enforcement of the 1970 act in states where cannabis was legalized in some form.

However, in 2018 the US cannabis community was in uproar when Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the memo and placed millions of people at risk of prosecution. There has been no enforcement of this by Trump’s justice department, but it continues to create an air of uncertainty in the industry.

In 2019 the hope of sanity continues as Chuck Schumer plans to reintroduce his bill to take marijuana off the US controlled substances list. If he is successful it will remove the fear of federal interference in cannabis legislation at state level.

Are state laws different?

There has been significant progress in cannabis legislation in the US over the last decade, but it has all happened at state level. While the federal approach remains stuck in the early seventies, 33 states and 4 territories have legalized it in some form.

However, there is no standard form of legalization and each state has set out different guidelines. In some states, such as California, you can grow cannabis legally, but you are limited to six plants. In others, where only medical use is legalized, it can be grown for approved medical use.

States Where You Can Grow up to Six Plants:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada

States Where Legal to Have Twelve Plants:

This is on a per household basis and there must be at least two people living there.

  • Alaska
  • Michigan

States That Allow Four Plants:

  • Oregon

States That Allow Two Plants:

  • Vermont

Cultivation Under License Only:

  • Washington

States Where Cultivation for Medical Use:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island

It is important to know the rules that apply to your state before considering growing your own cannabis plants. You should refer to the laws governing the state that you intend to grow in.

If seeds are legal in your state this only applies state-wide and seeds must not be transported from state to state.

Can I Buy From Overseas?

It is illegal to bring cannabis seeds into the US, so you do so at your own risk. The seeds are seized because it is federally illegal to possess and import them but there are very few records of this being taken any further.

Any seeds discovered by customs will be seized and destroyed. In some cases, you may receive a letter to inform you, but it is more common to just never receive the seeds. The letter will always state they were confisacted for a lack of a phyto-sanitary certificate.

What Precautions Can You Take?

To increase the chance of safely receiving your seed order you have several options.

1. Buy from a site that has a delivery guarantee- There are several sites who will automatically resend any orders that don’t arrive or are detained by customs. I Love growing Marijuana offers this for free as do MSNL as part of the shipping costs.

2. Buy additional delivery insurance- Some sites will allow you to buy this option to ensure that your seeds arrive, or another order will be sent immediately. Seedsman offer a delivery insurance for a small extra cost.

3. Pay for stealth delivery- There are many levels of stealth shipping to choose from. Some are simply plain unmarked boxes, but others will send you an unrelated item such as a DVD case, pen or toy and hide the seeds inside it. If you choose this option watch out for any orders that you don’t remember requesting. Many seeds have been lost when people throw out the stealth object because they don’t remember ordering it.

4. Order from a US seed bank– Simply order locally from a seed bank such as Growers Choice or Pacific Seed Bank.

Have People Been Busted for Seeds?

So far there is no record of individuals buying small amounts of seeds being tracked through their order and being prosecuted. However, that doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen. Approaches to how cannabis law is enforced can change at any time so make sure you are aware of the risks and any policy changes before placing your order.

Those who do get prosecuted for importing seeds relate to large growing operations and are responsible for large numbers of marijuana seeds brought into the US over a long time period. Like Mark Emery was way back in 2005.

Conclusion

When buying cannabis seeds in the US the key is to be fully informed about the regulations in your state. Purchasing seeds as an informed consumer in a legal state is the best way to become the proud owner of a few heavy cropping plants and your own supply of first-rate bud.

While it is never easy to navigate the complexity created between federal and state law, having knowledge of those that effect you will help you plan with confidence. With the right precautions you could well have a long and flower full future.

About Tim W. Shaw

imageTim W. Shaw is a freelance writer with a joint honours degree in English Literature and History. He writes on a wide range of subjects but specialises in Education, Health and Complementary Medicine.

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