Ten years ago it was illegal to use marijuana recreationally throughout the country. When cannabis was legalized for recreation purposes in 2012 only Washington and Colorado jumped on board. In the following years over 24 other jurisdictions passed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. Today approximately half of American citizens live in states with legal marijuana.
Many times the legalization of cannabis in a given state is followed up by a high demand for marijuana seeds and growing equipment. Lots of consumers show interest in growing their own supply and to do that they go to local grow shops for equipment and an online marijuana seed bank for high quality seeds. There are important cultivation laws to adhere to depending on the state. Many states limit the number of plants that can be grown per person or per location. Adding some confusion to the mix, some states allow buying, selling and possession of marijuana seeds, but not doing the same with the rest of the plant.
Despite legal limits and gray areas, the marijuana seed market has been taking off, with no sign of slowing down. This market had a value of 567 million in 2022, and is projected to reach a value of just over 2 billion by 2030. With both legislation and public acceptance shifting in favor of marijuana use, it’s no wonder that the marijuana seed market is seeing such consistent growth.
The demand for marijuana seeds isn’t only because of aspiring growers wanting to supply their own smoke. In some states, growing your own is the only way to feasibly get it legally. In Minnesota, for example, it’s legal to grow within certain limits, but most dispensaries selling recreational marijuana will not be in operation until at least 2025. The state says it will take that much time in order to establish oversight for the retail market. Until then, lots of eager residents are taking to growing at home and cultivating their own.
Virginia is experiencing a similar type of limbo. Although the recreational possession and use of marijuana was legalized in 2021, there still isn’t any legal groundwork to regulate commercial cannabis products. The resulting gray area is both a blessing and a curse for those who want to use marijuana recreationally. It allows them to legally buy seeds and grow their own plants, but at the same time, they have to do all the work themselves.
Speaking of “gray areas”, this is a phrase that gets used pretty frequently in discussions about the legalization of recreational marijuana. Residents of many states have to do extensive research on what is and isn’t allowed, with varied results. Some of them can legally buy and own cannabis seeds, but can’t cultivate them or enjoy the harvest. Others can cultivate marijuana plants, but only a certain number of them.
Regulations get even hazier for anyone who’s interested in selling marijuana for recreational use. In many cases, would-be shop owners have opted to simply wait for clearer legislation to be passed, so that they don’t end up on the wrong side of the law due to misinterpreted regulations. Another reason why these stores have been slow to open is that a change in the law could force them to switch directions. Something that’s in a legal gray area could end up being banned at a later date, which could affect stores’ ability to make sales or use up existing inventory.
That being said, not every cannabis vendor chooses to err on the side of caution. This is especially true for online vendors, who aren’t necessarily limited by state laws, and may have more legal leeway to operate. Online marijuana seed banks sell seeds to customers all over the US, and according to most sources, this is perfectly legal – even to customers who live where cannabis is still banned. How is this possible? It all boils down to the seeds’ THC content.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound that’s responsible for producing a “high” in users. This is found mainly in the buds of properly cultivated marijuana plants, which is why many regulations focus on controlling the growth and use of marijuana plants, rather than the seeds. Since cannabis seeds contain almost no THC, it’s impossible for anyone to get high from them – and apparently, they’re less of a priority for anti-marijuana lawmakers.
The focus on THC content isn’t new to lawmakers; this actually contributed to the legalization of hemp in 2018. Hemp is a type of cannabis, but since it has extremely low THC levels (as well as a number of industrial uses), it’s now legal to grow across the US. In 2022, lawyer Shane Pennington asked the DEA for clarification on the legal status of marijuana seeds. According to Pennington’s point of view, the reasoning behind the legalization of hemp also applied to marijuana seeds. Even though they could be cultivated into plants that would contain higher levels of THC, the seeds themselves should be legal to sell and possess. To many people’s surprise, the DEA sent a response agreeing with the lawyer, which was reassuring to those wanting to expand their seed-selling businesses.
However, Pennington also cautions enthusiasts to beware of the ever-present gray areas, as well as conflicting laws. As an example, most marijuana seed banks have to account for a certain number of their shipments being seized by the US Postal Service, since in some states it isn’t completely clear whether or not the seeds can legally be mailed. This uncertainty also keeps some potential customers from making a purchase, because they aren’t sure what would happen if they decided to cultivate their legitimately purchased seeds into plants that may not be legally permitted.
This is a confusing time for anyone involved in the cannabis seed market, but it’s also an exciting time. The required legislation may take a while to get passed, but it’s almost certain to be approved within the coming years.