Are Cannabis Seeds Legal to Possess in the U.S.?

December 16, 2016

In this article, we’re going to investigate the legality of the possession of cannabis seeds in the United States.

Understanding State and Federal Laws

The truth is, this is a complex question to answer, as U.S. courts seem to be divided.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was federally enacted by Congress to classify marijuana and its associated cannabinoids as a “Schedule 1” drug. According to U.S. Code, this is the definition of a “Schedule 1” drug:

  1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

This decision made the usage, ownership, cultivation, and sale of cannabis federally illegal.

However, as of 2017, 30 states have legalized the medical or even recreational use of cannabis. In some of those states, it is even legal to grow a certain number of plants for personal use.

The Legality of Cannabis Seeds

Because cannabis seeds include trace amounts of THC, they are federally illegal. In some states, however, the sale, purchase and even cultivation of seeds is legal, so it is best to look up your own state’s laws regarding cannabis before buying seeds from anyone.

Seeds at the Dispensary

If you do live in a state where the purchase and use of cannabis is legal, you may sometimes come across cannabis seeds within your buds.

In some states where cannabis has been legalized, it's actually illegal to keep these seeds, though you won’t have to return them to the dispensary. In other states, however, the seeds are yours and you are only limited by the number of plants you are legally allowed to grow within your state. Make sure to check out your state’s legal code before buying or cultivating your own seeds.

Buying Seeds Online

Unfortunately, buying cannabis seeds through the internet in the United States is illegal, as is sending any amount of THC in mail through the United States Postal Service. For this reason, it is best for cannabis gardeners to procure seeds from a legal retailer within the state they are authorized to grow in.

Other Uses of Cannabis Seeds

In the United States, it is legal to buy cannabis seeds to be used as birdseed or even fish bait. The seeds sold in this manner tend to have an extremely low percentage of THC, however, as they are usually industrial hemp seeds.

Closing Thoughts

The ownership, cultivation, and sale of cannabis seeds is still federally illegal within the United States. However, many states have asserted their right to refuse to enforce those federal laws, and federal agencies seem uninterested in going after cannabis users in legal states.

If you are living in a state where cannabis is still not medically or recreationally legal, you should not keep any cannabis seeds. If you are found with seeds, it can give the police an opportunity to charge you with having the intent to distribute or cultivate cannabis, which poses a harsher sentence than general possession.

On the bright side, the popular opinion of marijuana legalization has been changing. According to CBS News, only 27% of adults in the U.S. were in favor of legalization in 1979; in 2017, 61% believe that cannabis should be legalized.

There is no telling what the future of cannabis legislation will be. But you can rest assured that public opinion is changing, thanks in large part to organizations like NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). If you are passionate about the fight for legalization, check out NORML’s website to find out how you can help.

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