Are marijuana seeds legal and available online? [2023]

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Are marijuana seeds illegal to ship in the United States? In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quietly recognized cannabis seeds as legal in the United States. The DEA’s reasoning behind the affirmation was tied to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, subsequently defining and separating it from the marijuana consumed as cannabis sativa as anything containing less than .03% delta-9 THC. When the question is are marijuana seeds legal and can you buy cannabis seeds, as well as tissue culture and “other genetic material”, the agency response is that cannabis seeds containing less than .03% delta-9 THC meet the definition of hemp and are, therefore, not a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. In other words, yes, cannabis seeds fall under the legal definition of hemp and yes, they can be sold without criminal liability.

“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,” 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. With this statement, 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 said, referencing the vagaries of seed and genetics sourcing in the industry.

In response, Dark Heart Nursery CEO Daniel Grace said, “This seems to be a green light from the feds that genetics can start moving across state lines. Many breeders are already taking advantage of this. However, most, if not all, state regulatory programs still require closed-loop seed-to-sale systems. As a result, state regulations and regulators still pose a problem here. Ironically, in this case, the feds are saying ‘yes,’ but the state is still saying ‘no.’ Hopefully states will act promptly to clear up this discrepancy and allow the interstate and international genetics space to flourish.”

Are marijuana seeds illegal to ship?

In the cannabis industry, no decision regarding cannabis legality is ever absolute. Before rushing to buy cannabis seeds, it is key to remember that state laws vary widely when questioning are marijuana seeds illegal to ship.

For example, in Michigan, licensed cultivators may only buy cannabis seeds from other licensed cultivators or from licensed caregivers serving medical patients. Conversely, those same caregivers may obtain seeds from out of state. In Massachusetts, licensed growers are given 90 days, starting from the point of earning a certificate of occupancy, to obtain seeds. Cultivation businesses may source genetics from seed banks or associated growers — but only within the 90-day window. Beyond that 90-day window, the sources of all genetics must be cited in the state’s METRC-based tracking system.

On May 2, 2023, the sale of cannabis seeds and plant clippings became legal in Massachusetts after the state Cannabis Control Commission gave the go-ahead for sales of up to six cannabis seeds/clones (defined as a clipping from a plant that can be rooted and grown) by licensed retailers, delivery operators and medical treatment centers to an individual per day.

“There’s a lot of demand for clones, plants and seeds because it allows people to grow at home and it’s the most affordable way to have your own medicine, to have your own bud,” said Sieh Samura, CEO at Yamba Market, which now has a waiting list. State regulars recommend reading its safety guidelines on home cultivation before growing cannabis at home, particularly if using high-powered lamps.

Oregon’s Senate Committee is currently reviewing SB 353, which was reconstituted from the January version, and now aims to allow state licensees to export products adhering to the federal definition of hemp, possibly including marijuana and delta-8 seeds. This would allow for “usable marijuana,” plus specific edibles and concentrates to be shipped out of state. Particularly, the drafted bill removes from the definition of “marijuana items” both “marijuana seeds [and] industrial hemp seeds imported or exported in accordance with applicable state and federal law.” Therefore, seeds possessed by state licensees that will germinate into high-THC plants could be shippable also.

Still unclear if marijuana seeds illegal to ship? On the federal level, beyond the simplified stance taken by the DEA on cannabis, the 2023 Farm Bill is still being drafted. However, it may clarify a few things, as it is likely to include provisions connected to hemp and cannabinoids, such as:

  • The dividing line between hemp and marijuana may increase to an allowable THC amount of 1%.
  • Higher THC amounts are possible for what are called “work-in-progress” products, or products in the interim-processing phase when THC amounts could cross the limit temporarily.
  • Mandated DEA lab testing could be removed or reworded.

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This article was originally published June 28, 2022, and updated May 15, 2023. This article is not intended as legal advice. Check your local laws.


  1. […] to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and permit up to six mature plants and six seedlings for personal use. Further, anyone serving in prison time for activity made legal under the measure […]

  2. […] to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and permit up to six mature plants and six seedlings for personal use. Further, anyone serving in prison time for activity made legal under the measure […]

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