Although marijuana is federally prohibited, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has accepted that the plant’s seeds are typically unregulated and lawful, regardless of how much THC is generated in buds if the seeds get planted.
In response to a request from attorney Shane Pennington about the legality of cannabis seeds, tissue culture, and “other genetic material” having less than 0.3 percent THC, the DEA recently reviewed federal legislation and related rules.
While marijuana seeds were formerly prohibited, the FDA verified that this is no longer the case owing to the federal legalization of hemp, as Pennington discussed in a Sub stack edition of his On Drugs newsletter on Monday.
“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 doesn’t controlled under the CSA”, Terrence L. Boos, chief of the DEA’s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section, wrote in the January 6 letter.
He also added, “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.”
Despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) classification of marijuana, rendering all portions of the plant Cannabis sativa L. unregulated as long as they do not exceed 0.3 percent THC.
Because hemp and marijuana seeds typically contain nominal THC levels that do not exceed the legal threshold, the DEA effectively admits that people can consume cannabis seeds regardless of how much THC the resulting plant produces. The seeds contain less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC. Of course, using cannabis seeds to cultivate still-prohibited marijuana is illegal under federal law.
“In my view, the letter is significant because we continue to see the 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 explained to Marijuana Moment.