Last month the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quietly confirmed that cannabis seeds with less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound THC are classified as “hemp” and are federally legal to possess and sell. This comes as great news to budding marijuana DIY growers who may want to spice up their cannabis collection with genetics from other states like California, Washington or Colorado.
The news was delivered to attorney Shane Pennington with the legal firm Vicente Sederberg LLP after he asked the DEA for a determination on whether cannabis seeds, tissue cultures and genetic samples containing less than 0.3 percent THC were considered hemp.
Hemp was defined and legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. “Whether a particular sample of CBD (or any other cannabis-derived material) is a controlled substance doesn’t depend on the sample’s source,” wrote Pennington. “Rather, in the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill, the analysis depends entirely on whether the sample contains 0.3 percent delta-9 THC or more on a dry weight basis. If so, it’s schedule I ‘marihuana.’ Otherwise, it’s hemp.”
The DEA responded to Pennington’s request by confirming his position and effectively legalizing the sale and possession of cannabis seeds since they don’t contain THC.
This opens up a lot of options for home growers who can now legally purchase seeds from seed banks across the nation and aren’t limited to the selections available at local dispensaries. Online seed banks are not only a great source for novel strains; they also come with other benefits like germination guarantees and improved pre-sale storage.
A great rule of thumb when shopping for seeds online is to note your favorite strains and do a Google search to identify who is breeding them. The seeds from most of the popular strains available in dispensaries can usually be found online and sold by their source.
Photoperiod vs. Autoflower
While shopping for seeds, you will come across the terms “photoperiod”—strains that are light sensitive and require strict light cycles to flower at the proper time—and “autoflower”—strains that will start flowering about halfway through their life cycle regardless of the amount of light they receive.
Photoperiod strains are the more common of the two and will produce larger harvests of arguably better cannabis. The downside is they require more attention to detail and stricter light cycles based on natural lighting conditions.
Autoflower strains are hybridized, containing Cannabis ruderalis genetics. Ruderalis strains come from Russia where the plants evolved to become especially hearty. These strains can withstand cold temperatures, tend to take up little space and will flower at a certain time in their life cycle rather than waiting for specific light conditions to be met. This makes autoflower seeds a great choice for first-time growers with little space to operate. The downside is that autoflower strains are generally thought to be of lower quality than “normal” cannabis seeds.