Cannabis in the USA – Laws, Use and History
Many of the USA’s states have now legalised cannabis, either for medicinal or recreational use, or both. However, the country’s federal law still classifies the plant as a Schedule I drug, which theoretically identifies it as being as dangerous as heroin. With hemp now being legal to grow in the USA, many are wondering if the law will further change in the future.
- Washington, D.C.
- CBD Products
- Recreational cannabis
- Medicinal cannabis
Cannabis laws in the USA
Can you possess and use cannabis in the USA?
The USA has both federal and state drug laws. In all instances, federal laws supersede state laws; including regarding the recreational use of cannabis.
Here’s a brief run-through of the main federal drug laws in the country:
Controlled Substances Act
This act was passed as part of President Nixon’s Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Among other things, it established a classification system for drugs. Drugs were placed into one of five categories – ranging from Schedule I (high potential for abuse, significant risk to safety) to Schedule V (acceptable medical treatment).
Cannabis was categorised as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD, among others.
Anti-Drug Abuse Acts
In 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was introduced. This Act established mandatory minimum sentencing laws for offenders, including those caught using cannabis. The exact term of the sentence was determined by the quantity of drugs the individual was caught with, and which drug it was.
The law was updated in 1988, and introduced minimum sentences for minors caught using cannabis. Unsurprisingly, this Act resulted in a rise in the prison population, with more people incarcerated for drugs-related crimes.
Current federal penalties
The USA’s federal laws focus on the number of times an individual commits the offence, rather than the actual quantities of cannabis.
Possession of cannabis is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. For a second offence, the individual may be imprisoned for up to two years (with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days), plus receive a $2,500 fine. Both of these instances are regarded as ‘misdemeanours’ in the eyes of the law, not felonies.
However, any further instances may be classified as a felony, and the penalties are more severe. The minimum prison sentence is 90 days (the maximum is three years) and the fine is increased to $5,000.
To make matters more complicated, each case of cannabis possession is regarded as one of two categories – simple possession, or possession with the intention to distribute.
If the individual is caught with small amounts, it is regarded as for personal use only, and the above sentences apply. The same penalties are also used for those caught with drug paraphernalia, such as a smoking pipe.
However, if the individual is caught with larger quantities (perhaps broken into smaller bags), or if they are caught with equipment or assets associated with selling drugs, such as a set of scales or lots of money, this is regarded as a more serious offence.
President Trump’s cannabis stance
The USA’s current president, Donald Trump, has (to date) adopted a more ambiguous position on cannabis laws.
In 2018, Buzzfeed News broke a story about Trump’s secret ‘anti-weed’ committee – with plans to launch a series of public campaigns to demonise the drug. The report revealed that the committee planned to ignore any facts or information about positive factors relating to medicinal cannabis, and instead, focus on the negatives.
However, other sources claim that Trump is in favour of legalising cannabis; or at least, for medicinal purposes. Greg James, publisher of Marijuana Venture, comments: “Trump is not a person with convictions, but rather someone who does whatever he thinks will win some short-term approval from his base.”
Interestingly, former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions also stated that cannabis was not as dangerous as heroin, and during a hearing, clarified that:
“Our policy (…) is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalise marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”
Can you sell cannabis in the USA?
The sale or supply of cannabis is regarded as a much more serious offence than possession. There are set penalties in place for the transportation, sale or smuggling of drugs; and these are determined based on:
- What drug was being sold or transported
- Where it was being distributed
- Where the arrest occurred (penalties differ from state to state)
- If the drugs were distributed to minors
Cannabis is no longer classified as a ‘hard drug’, and as such, the penalties for trafficking it are less than for other substances, such as cocaine or LSD.
If caught trafficking less than 50 kilograms, the individual may be given a prison sentence of up to five years, plus a fine of $250,000 for a first-time offence. If caught a second time, this is increased to up to 10 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine.
Those caught trafficking amounts of 50 to 99 kilograms can receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, plus a $1 million fine for the first offence.
If the amount of cannabis is 100 to 999 kilograms, then a five to 40-year prison sentence is given, plus a $500,000 fine, and if the amount is 1,000 kilograms or more, the offender may receive life imprisonment, and a $1 million fine. The penalties are doubled if the cannabis is supplied to a minor, or within 1,000 feet of a school.
Gifting or sharing small amounts of cannabis with another person (without any money changing hands) is regarded as possession, not sale or supply.
Can you grow cannabis in the USA?
Growing cannabis is classified as ‘drug manufacture’ under USA federal law. This means it is regarded as a criminal offence.
Punishment is based on the number of cannabis plants the offender is caught growing.
- 50 plants or under – Up to five years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine
- 50 to 99 plants – Up to 20 years in prison, and a $1 million fine
- 100 to 999 plants – Between five and 40 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine
- 1000 plants or more – 10 years to life, plus a $1 million fine
Is CBD legal in the USA?
Some states in the USA have legalised cannabis and its derivatives (including CBD) for medicinal or recreational use. However, CBD is still illegal at federal level, and technically, it is classified as an illicit Schedule I drug.
This means that, while CBD can be used legally in parts of the country, it cannot be transported across state boundaries. This is problematic for businesses that make CBD products. Some companies have attempted to claim that their products should be classified as dietary supplements or botanical extracts, leading the FDA to issue “cease and desist” letters, emphasising that the federal law does not see CBD in these terms.
This stance was further clarified in 2016, when the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) created a new category under which to classify extracts of the cannabis plant (like CBD). This emphasised, under no uncertain terms, that it was still illegal.
What about the Farm Bill?
The 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp (and its by-products) from the Controlled Substances Act, led many to believe that, as long as the CBD was extracted from hemp and didn’t contain THC, it would be legal to sell and purchase.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement, declaring that the sale of CBD products was still under their jurisdiction. This means that CBD can legally be extracted, but not sold. Possession of CBD products has not been criminalized under any current laws.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to the USA?
Cannabis seeds are illegal to possess, purchase or buy, according to federal law. For this reason, they cannot be mailed into the country.
However, some states have legalised cannabis cultivation, and cannabis seeds can be purchased and sold in these states.
Medicinal cannabis in the USA
Many of the USA’s states have now legalised medicinal cannabis. California was the first to do so, in 1996, and since then, the majority of other states have followed their example.
However, medicinal cannabis remains illegal at federal level. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug (the most dangerous), regardless of whether it’s used for medicinal or recreational benefit.
In 2009, President Obama encouraged federal prosecutors not to penalise people who distributed cannabis for medicinal purposes, in accordance with their state law. This was further reinforced in 2013, when the US Department of Justice released a statement saying that they expected “strong, state-based enforcement efforts (…) and will defer the right to challenge their legalisation laws at this time.”
It’s possible that the federal law may change, as President Trump has spoken out in support of medicinal cannabis in the past. However, in 2019, he issued a signing statement on medicinal cannabis, which gives his administration the right to enforce federal drug laws, even against people who comply with the state laws.
Industrial hemp in the USA
Hemp cultivation was legalised by President Trump in 2018. This new Farm Bill provided farmers in the USA with the means to grow hemp on a large-scale basis, and will next be renewed in 2023.
The Bill places industrial hemp under the supervision of the Agriculture Department. In order to be legal, the hemp must not contain any more than 0.3% THC (the substance responsible for providing the ‘high’) on a dry weight basis. However, despite hemp cultivation being made legal at federal level, the production of CBD remains technically illegal, and under FDA control.
This hasn’t stopped several multi-national companies from getting excited about the future, with many poised to start making CBD products as soon as they’re legally able to proceed. These include organisations like Tilray Inc., Molson Coors Brewing Co. and Coca Cola Co.
Good to know
If you are travelling to the USA (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:
- A recent report showed that 66% of people in the USA supported the legalisation of cannabis. It’s the third consecutive year that support for legalisation has increased.
- Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in the USA, with around 22.2 million people having used it in the space of a month (according to data taken from June 2018).
- The cannabis industry is growing rapidly in the USA, despite the federal law. Sales of cannabis rose by 33% in 2017 (to $9.7 billion), and were estimated to grow at a rate of around 28% annually until 2021.
Cannabis Use in Lebanon – Laws, Use, and History
The USA has a complicated history with cannabis. Prior to the 1900s, cannabis was widely used and grown across the USA. When the first colonial people arrived at the country’s shores, they were encouraged to grow hemp, as a useful material for fabric and rope.
However, this all changed with the introduction of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937. This was the first step towards complete prohibition, and its effects can still be felt today.
According to The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, the largest driving force for cannabis’s prohibition was Randolph Hearst. He was a renowned press baron, and the hemp plantations grown by his Mexican neighbours interrupted his plans for expansion. Hearst began to lose both money and land, and eventually, a large portion of his business.
Hearst was furious, so decided to use his own publications to denounce cannabis. This media campaign, declaring the plant to be dangerous and evil, soon put a stop to his competitors’ hemp empire. He also used his newspapers to spread racist mistruths about Mexican criminals and their excessive cannabis consumption.
Hearst was backed by some powerful figures, such as Harry J Anslinger of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Unsurprisingly, they managed to destroy the hemp industry in the country.
As the years went on, the situation started to change in the USA. But it’s taken a long time for it to recover from the force of Hearst’s media smear campaign.
Attitudes towards cannabis
The majority of people in the USA are in favour of legalising cannabis at federal level. This seems to be largely due to the shift in media representation. No longer is cannabis so widely demonised – in fact, its benefits are now openly discussed on television and in the newspapers, which in turn, is having an influence on the people in the country.
There are still some people who are staunchly against its legalisation. The current government (Republican) have traditionally adopted a conservative attitude towards the use of cannabis, and many voters adhere to the belief that it’s damaging to society. However, even President Trump seems to be advocating making medicinal cannabis legal in federal law.
Cannabis in Algeria – Laws, Use, and History
Cannabis arrests and racism
It’s a fact that more non-white people are incarcerated for drugs-related crimes in the USA than white people. While politicians over the years have claimed that this is due to cannabis usage being higher in non-white communities, the truth isn’t anywhere near as clear-cut. Indeed, there seems to be an undercurrent of racism driving this narrative.
For example, according to figures from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, overall arrest rates in California decreased by 40% between 1990 and 2008. However, arrests for cannabis-related crimes leapt up by 127% – the only offence to increase during this time.
In 1990, numbers of non-white cannabis-related arrests were basically the same as white arrests (despite the fact that non-white people comprised far less than 50% of the population). In 2008, 62% of all the people arrested were non-white. 42% were below the age of 20.
Some politicians in the USA have used figures like these to suggest that cannabis-related crime is a bigger issue in non-white communities, particularly among African-Americans. However, this has been shown to be incorrect. In fact, black people use cannabis at roughly the same rate as white people. Ironically, in the 18-25-year-old age group, more white people than black people consume it.
This incorrect opinion is pervasive, damaging, and needs to be addressed.
Removing children from cannabis-users’ homes
Another disturbing practice is the removal of children from their home, due to a parent or guardian being caught using cannabis. Sometimes, even being arrested with a limited quantity of the substance is enough for the Child Protective Services (CPS) to conclude that the adults involved are unfit to look after children.
There are no official figures indicating how often this occurs, but several reported cases suggest that it’s not a rare event. Some of the recent cases have involved those using cannabis for medicinal purposes; even those who are using the substance in a US state that has approved medicinal cannabis use.
Brielle ‘Bree’ Green is one such example. She was removed from her family home at the age of eight months, despite the fact that both her parents were registered medicinal cannabis patients. The parents had to fight a long, protracted battle to have their daughter reinstated under their care.
Cannabis in Angola– Laws, Use, and History
Cannabis events in the USA
The USA hosts several major cannabis events throughout the year. Here are just a few to look out for:
- NYC Cannabis Parade. The NYC Cannabis Parade has been running since the 1970s, and sees people joining forces to advocate the legalisation of the plant. As well as the parade, there’s also a rally, with plenty of speakers discussing key issues in the industry, and music performances too.
- The Seed to Sale Show. This B2B (business to business) event, held in Boston, features 3,000 industry leaders and over 150 exhibitors. It’s designed to cover all aspects of cannabis entrepreneurialism.
- Hempcon. Hempcon in San Francisco brings together cannabis enthusiasts from across the country. There are cannabis vendors, plus competitions and entertainment for visitors to enjoy.
- Cannabis World Congress. This New York-based event seeks to educate about the opportunities in the cannabis and hemp industry. In addition to NYC, the event also takes place in Boston and Los Angeles.
Will cannabis be legalised in the future?
The future of cannabis hangs in the balance in the USA. President Trump has suggested that medicinal cannabis will be legalised at federal level, but as of yet, has not indicated that recreational use will follow suit.
Given the Republican government’s conservative values, it seems unlikely that recreational use will be made legal any time soon.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
47 thoughts on “Cannabis in the USA – Laws, Use and History”
Other than eating sh!t and dying, this would be the one good thing Trump can do. It would be amazing if “State’s Right’s” applied to more than guns and taxes.
I am white first off. But it sure as hell didn’t help me when I was set up to be busted. I had a guy I had known since I was a kid set me up. I received a year sentence for selling an ounce of weed when I was busted. I was 19 when I was busted. I did get to turn 20 before I got locked up. By the time I got out I had done almost 9 months on a year sentence. Back then most people only did 4-5 months on a year sentence. It seems like I’m just lucky that way. At least I learned and have never went back and I turned 60 back in July
I hope so Finland wake up and say Yes in Cannabis but Finland is shit country and cops is in assh.
IMHO the difficulty is anyway to get something illegal to legal. If it was common and legal to sometimes consume weed the statistics would be far better. I think biggest problem is to teach people a reasonable consume. And if there were THC-Limits for driving (e.g. no use of THC for the last 3 days) things would be much easier to decide. Same to weapons and machines. I know alcohol is far more bad, but the reduce of alcohol is kind of linear, THC is different. That will always be one argument against.
And my call to everyone out there consuming weed in a regular way: do it responsible and be serious! That is the only way to show this drug is manageable!
USA: Great effort!
not happy having my seeds siezed , due to lack of a phyto sanitary certificate. I wonder if any seed company has this paperwork that i can shove up my USDA ass
Finnaly some good news !
Would you happen to know how many CBD sellers may be in the mid west? How would that divide into the population of the midwest? Thank you
I’m afraid I don’t have this information, and I don’t even have an educated guess for you, sorry! We are a Netherlands-based company with a mainly European market, so I would not know how to track down that information for you. What I can suggest is that you contact the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp as a starting point to find someone who might be able to answer your questions. In the meantime, I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
It is hard to get funding for cannabis research. No way the government is going to give me a grant to experiment so I’ve been trying crowdfunding but CF platforms are hesitant to risk it. The newest CF platform I’ve been trying is experiment.com/ceo so hopefully they approve it and my research will be funded by the people, for the people.
sessions must GO. He is to busy STEALING EVERYBODY’S PERSONAL PROPERTY AND THROWING MILLIONS MORE INTO PRISON FOR LONGER SENTENCES, then he is doing his Job.
I think there is contradiction in this article regarding the university that conducts federally funded research. The university is Mississippi, but the article makes reference to both Massachusetts and Michigan.
Love what you guys are doing. Great Cannabis info.
With the property confiscation laws in some sates, I wonder if it is more lucrative for law enforcement to keep Mary Jane illegal? Millions of dollars and property are taken by law enforcement every year during pot busts. In states where pot is illegal I should think that property confiscation helps to keep states afloat so they can bribe the voters and garner more votes. Then of course there is the business of incarceration. Private company’s have found this to be a very good business. The more people in jail the more money they make. I do believe it is time for the people to rise up and throw the creeps out of office that benefit from arrest, property confiscation, and incarceration from pot.
Cannabis should be legal, particularly since the health benefits are now being recognized.
you need to update your story. cannibis is legal in oregon . to grow and hold on your person..com.com
I have used it since the late 60s and I without going to school only to 11 grade managed to get promoted to plant manager of a large company. I don’t think it killed any of my brain cells. In fact it has helped my diabetes
I feel that ‘Medical Marijuana'(use the word Cannabis please) is a moot question. The healing properties of the herb have only been in question by die hard prohibitionists. From a human rights perspective just stop the lies and re-legalize. We’ve had at least 12,000 years of human association-no real problems- with this herb and less than 100 years of suppression – nothing but disaster. None of the justifications for the ‘Marihuana(sic) Tax Act of 1937 had any bearing on fact. If we just negated all the legislation on Cannabis that is based on lies we’d have full legalization.
I believe government should be laissez faire hands all the way off. Let states set stipulations we are strong enough to do it ourselves. The country is already benefiting from the 23 states that are legal because taxes have to be paid. I believe it’s safe to say that America is a country that builds jobs in many different industries why not the cannabis industry? Full legalization. Deschedule. Decriminalization. The state can show federal government how simple it is to end war on drugs, decrease crime rate and, create jobs.
I have a very close friend that has seizures and have a doctors’ Oder to use cannabis to control his seizures, I have notice that when he does cannabis his shakes and stuttering is greatly diminished the only problem is the expense. cannabis is a herb that is mentioned 2 times in scripture so why is the cost so exorbant? how can a person raise one’s own for there own use?
LIVING IN FLORIDA. WOULD LIKE TO PROCURE WHAT IS NECESSARY TO GROW CANNABIS FOR RESEARCH IE MEDICAL. I CAN GET FUNDING TO SET UP A LOCATION AS DEEMED NECESSARY TO GET THIS STARTED. WOULD WELCOME ANY ADVICE AND OR HELP. THANK YOU
Hello Jacob Blair,
I am a member of a group that is in the process to contact research on the benefit of cannabis in medicinal use.
We are looking for funding to move forward.
Please let me know if you would like to discuss it further.
I’m working to get the “green rush” therapeutic research to locate on the Emerald Nature Coast in Citrus Co. Where are you located? Haydon
All u idiots saying prescription pills can do the same thing. Yea except there is 100 life threatening side effects and kick backs for prescribing them.. Pills are also way more addictive than weed i dont know anyone robbing stores for weed but i do know people who will for oc’s, vicodin, & methodone. I have afib and much rather smoke a joint to control heartbeat rather than shovel pradaxa down my throat which is way more dangerous. So all u idiots complaining do ur research this is america not russia my rite to chose how i medicate. Oh and by the way how many people die from drinking alcohol which is legal.
One of the many myths about marijuana is that it kills brain cells,recent studies have shown that it repairs damaged brain cells which could greatly improve the lives of alzheimers disease. Please read the facts before you help spread the lies. That’s all everyone needs to do, read the scientific studies and you will see that this is the best medicine on the planet and it is completely natural , everyone could grow their own medicine but we all know that big pharma is bribing every law maker they can to keep us hooked on their dangerous drugs.
I think both CANNABIS&HEMP should BE Removed AS A SCHEDULE I. CANNABIS CAN HEAL & HEMP TO SAVE FROM CUTTING DOWN OUR TREES. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT CAN BE MADE FROM HEMP. AMERICANS WOULD HAVE A BETTER WAY OF LIFE, WHEN CANNABIS & HEMP ARE OFF AS A SCHEDULE I & our gov’t quit lying to the American people about CANNABIS.
I need some weed for my husband he needs it the most
Dear Latoya, thanks for your reply.
Sensi Seeds does not supply cannabis, only (medicinal) cannabis seeds. Maybe the people on forums such as forum.sensiseeds.com can help.
I love Obama since he said it’s no more dangerous then alcohol just hope I can still open a micro greenhouse and coffee shop like the micro breweries for beer if they legalize. I would love to work all day in a greenhouse then chill and smoke in my own coffee shop I can have my wife manage. Even if the price drops who cares fuck the money growing weed is the only thing I love to do.
I have breast tumor and I heard that drinking wine during the oil it will destroy everything .Is this true?
How to u dry ur plants out im just curious
Should be like that…,person who nows about marijuana effect
The USA is not the only industrialized country not to grow hemp. I don’t know where or why this rumor keeps going around the net. From what I read, there’s only a handful of countries that grow hemp at all.
Your map is out dated,2013 brings all forms of cannabis to be legal in Colorado, both hemp and recreational/medicinal uses ( you can grow it in your yard and smoke it on your front porch, The State of Washington has made it legal for recreational as well as medical use, smoke up Seatle!
Hi there and thank you for your comment. We have updated the map accordingly.
Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website in internet explorer, may test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a huge component to other people will miss your great writing because of this problem.
The recipe above for pot wine calls for 1 lb pot for 1 cask of fermenting wine. Is this referring to a 50-60 gal cask?
This article was not written for us, which means only the source knows the exact answer.
However, based on the data given, the cask should be 60 US Gal -226,5L- considering that the volume of the bottles is 75 centiliters.
Some strains encourage couch lock and the munchies, while other strains encourage joyful activities for hours, Go to one of your local shops and ask their knowledgeable staff to help you choose a strain that meets your specific needs. No clubs or knowledgeable staff in your area? The Big Book of Buds 1 through 4 will tell you more than you probably want to know about 100’s of strains, their origins, and the type of high that you can expect from each, as well as how best to grow each stain.
all conciousness is relative in how the world manifest,s
given that you have researched in depth the medicinal properties ov the phem ( medicinal hemp ) take a moment to broaden your perspective.
every man & his dog partake of the female plant ( essentialy smoking the menses (periodic budding ) of the female plant hence in season as a bitch (canine, cannabis ( two dogs ) so every one partakes of the female cycle , usually via the process of friction warming up said female properties not unlike a woman as ( in foreplay the female requires to be warmed up , hence changing her vibration ( dimensional awareness ) in plant form , smoke, cake ( food ) bhang/smoothie drink ) all via a heating ,warming ( friction producing process )
now cannabis ( two dogs is termed thus so that you may shed light on both dogs not just the bitch, so the male , in most cases the male is thrown away after insemination, imagine for a moment if that was what happened to men in the symbolic equation, the male requires no heat(friction ) as it is already hot as in the analogy of a man , the man requires to slow down & entrain with his woman so that you/he may lose himself in the present ( serpent ) moment not looking over his woman,s shoulder thinking of someone else, look in your woman’s eyes ( presently be ). so in plant terms instead of throwing the male away utilise not use its power/properties prepare a cold bhang smoothie with supergreens & any fruit & veg that may be wasted otherwise, & drink in a slow fashion so that your body may absorb its potential , you will find the male bhang gives clarity in vision/thought( beyond thought a bit like thealing ( more feeling than thinking ) also all the male potentials vigor,strength & all round general male pick up ( or kick up the arse )
now the male can equate itself in symbolic plant form.
the final stage would be the alchemical wedding merging male & female together ( marriage ) the combined properties of both male (cold only ) & female ( via heat & cold ) smoke ,vapor,food,drink .
when these 2 dogs take there first dance together , a new ca ~ dance is unveiled all though its just the balanced you under all the shite that has been acrued full of lite as opposed to full of shite.
finally the optimum time to partake of the phem ~hemp is in the enphont ( infant vegative state as is the case in wheat,barley rye,kamut all grasses.
when pou bring your dog to heal,
it is plausible that the sufic writings prior to ad 600 referred to this male plant as the plant @ the foot of the fountain of youth found by al khider ( the green one, in europe the green knight or green man )
all powa thru ya /u
whilst I enjoy the Medical marijunana, I get the munchies and wonder what is the less of two evils, pain – verse weight-gain!! any comments on how to combat the terrible ‘munchies’
Unbelievable. Not approved for chronic pain. So here is my story. In 1994 I had a 54mph whiplash accident. Which from the hyper-extension of my neck, crushed all my facet and ganglion nerves in the neck. I can only describe the crippling, disabling neck and head pain as Suicidal. I lost my ability to work as a well paid Tool and Die maker, as any upper body stress caused horrific pain, lost my career, ability to support my family, and lost my home. And the pain caused me to develop Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy. For 16 years, friends and family told me “You should smoke pot for your pain”. I never did. And honestly I hadn’t since 1976. As a father of 5, I thought how irresponsible of me to try it, believing government propaganda that it is a ‘drug’. What kind of example would I be to my children?? And down the medication list of prescriptions I went. EVERY narcotic known to man(and all of the horrific side effects from them, addiction, loss of libido, sexual dysfunction, and on ad naseum). Nerve message blockers(which destroyed my teeth from stopping saliva) Anti-Depressants and all their complications, and half a dozen more prescription meds, all with their ill effects on me. On and on it went. The massive amounts of steroid injections to my neck caused such a horrifically weakened immune system, I was near death 6 times from infections, MRSA 3 times with amputations, the Flesh eating bacteria(41/2 months in hospital with that alone and loss of the back of my entire thigh down to the bone) and Staph twice, once in my blood, once in my belly and the scars from removing it there. My physical body is so mutilated, scarred, and amputated from modern medicine, it looks like I did three tours of duty in Vietnam.
And so, after suffering another 12 hours of non stop pain one day (161/2 years of this), even while taking tons of narcotics (at my worst, 500mg of Oxycodone daily), my 16 year old son handed me a bowl of weed. And I smoked it. And I have never looked back. I get better relief from pot than I ever did from Oxycontin, Methadone, Morphine Dilaudid, Vicadin, etc. and the handful of other meds. And I have taken a better, healthier path. Along with supplements, specific vitamins, essential oils, homeopathic natural meds, I have improved my health better than anything modern medicine could do. It actually promotes the DISEASE ECONOMY in America. Healthy people do not generate money, sick people do. The fact that the government continues to make access to cannabis a crime, when it truly is the greatest medicinal medication Mother Nature has given to her children, is Criminal in itself. I dream of the day when everyone can be growing it on their window sill, vegetable garden, basement, etc. At near 56 years old, not sure if I will see that day though. I now take ZERO prescriptions, and will never go back there, Ever.
If only the right people in these great United States would open their eyes, ears and minds, maybe, just MAYBE the U.S. would be the kind of place it once was… GREAT. My hats off to you friend! I wish you the BEST, and speediest road back to health as humanly, (or organically) possible.
Peace, to you and your family Brother!
while it is a move forward for Connecticut and patients with cancer,glaucoma,aids,parkinsons and multiple sclerosis, but not for those suffering from chronic pain.i think the powers at be should let the doctors decide when cannabis would be a benefit to the individual patients and not be constricted by red tape. i think it`s a bit like dangling the carrot really.Embrace cannabis it`s never going to go away!
Sensi Seeds has never sent cannabis seeds to the USA.
Even though many states now have legal medicinal cannabis, all points of ingress to the USA are under federal jurisdiction, and the US federal government does not recognise any medicinal cannabis laws. Therefore, it’s illegal to mail seeds to the USA from another country.
Sorry, but we’re not sure how you could get seeds in the US, but we would advise you to be very careful about ordering them from third parties, as you could be putting yourself at risk.
,I ordered seeds from sensi seeds in 1986, best seeds I ever planted, wish that they would continue selling seeds to us.
Why does Sensi Seed Co. not send seeds to the USA any more. How do I buy your seeds
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Author and reviewer
The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
Maurice Veldman is a member of the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers and one of the Netherlands’ most notable cannabis lawyers. With 25 years’ experience in the field, his knowledge of criminal and administrative law supports cannabis sellers and hemp producers by addressing the inequalities between the individual and the state.
Weed seeds may be legal to ship across the US, DEA says
Cannabis commercial and home growers alike may be able to get their seeds from all over the country now, and not have to worry about breaking federal law. Before, because of federal illegality, cannabis seeds have been restricted to the state in which they were produced, so a strain bred and grown in one state, legally, could not go beyond that state’s boundaries.
A recent legal clarification by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could mean that the seeds of cannabis strains popular in one part of the country could legally be shipped to another part of the country, because the DEA considers all forms of cannabis seeds to be federally legal hemp.
That means strains popular in mature markets like Washington, Oregon, and California could make their way to legal markets on the East Coast in Massachusetts and Maine, and soon-to-open markets like New Jersey and New York.
Marijuana Moment reporter Kyle Jaeger recently unearthed a letter from DEA officials that clarifies the definition of cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures, which could open up a whole range of possibilities for cannabis growers, and could spread a diversity of strains across legal markets all over the country, opening up the gene pool and leading to new trends and tastes in weed.
Are weed seeds illegal?
Right now, cannabis strains are somewhat isolated in the regions they are bred and created, as they can’t be transported beyond state lines. For example, even though recreational weed is legal at the state level in both California and Oregon, moving a plant from one of those states to the other is illegal at the federal level. This forces cannabis growers and breeders to operate within the confines of a specific state.
That’s not to say that a strain bred in California won’t end up in Oregon—it happens all the time, but it is technically illegal, according to federal law.
Many cannabis breeders and seed banks sell seeds throughout the US, but they operate in a legal gray area. Typically, seed producers say their seeds are sold for “novelty” or “souvenir” purposes, giving them a loophole to skirt the law.
If cannabis seeds are found in the mail, they could be seized and the sender or receiver arrested, however, the fact of the matter is that seeds are very difficult to detect. Cannabis seeds are usually less than a ¼” in diameter and don’t smell like weed. A packet of 10 seeds is about the size of four quarters stacked.
But all that might have changed in 2018 without anyone knowing.
Defining ‘source’ vs. ‘material’
In 2018, Congress passed a farm bill that legalized hemp in the US. It defined “hemp” as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. This allows hemp to be grown and used for industrial purposes—for creating textiles and materials. The 2018 bill also opened up hemp production for the creation of cannabinoids other than delta-9 THC, such as CBD, delta-8, and others.
Because CBD and delta-8 products are usually extracted from hemp plants, that is, cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC, they can be found in states that don’t have legal, recreational cannabis.
In November, Shane Pennington, counsel at Vicente Sederberg LLP in New York, wrote to DEA officials asking for clarification of the definition of a cannabis seed, clone, and tissue culture.
Cannabis seeds have always been deemed illegal because they come from plants that are high in THC. The source of the seeds is above 0.3% THC, and therefore anything that comes from those plants, such as seeds, has also been considered illegal cannabis.
Pennington argued that the source of the material doesn’t determine legality, but the material itself—meaning that because a cannabis seed itself contains less than 0.3% THC, it should be classified as hemp. If seeds are hemp, they are not a controlled substance—and are therefore federally legal.
“When it comes to determining whether a particular cannabis-related substance is federally legal ‘hemp’ or schedule I “marihuana,” it is the substance itself that matters—not its source,” Pennington wrote in a blog post.
Exotic Genetix Mike, founder of cannabis producer Exotic Genetix, said the DEA’s ruling “Is what we’ve always kind of practiced. [Seeds contain] less than 0.3% THC—they’re not a controlled substance.”
Mike welcomed the news: “It’s been clarified. Not just what we do is legal, but the money we make for doing it is also legal and not an illegal enterprise.”
What implications does this have for the weed industry?
If the DEA and federal government allow seeds to cross state lines, adults could grow and consume seeds and strains from all over the country in their own state. Certain strains would no longer be confined to a specific region, but could be enjoyed all across the nation.
“It’ll spark innovation, if people can bring it above ground, it can be regulated,” said Pennington in an interview with Leafly.
Regulation can bring more investment, a bigger industry, and more acceptance of the plant.
Breaking down transportation barriers across states would also open up the cannabis gene pool, giving breeders a bigger diversity of strains to work with. The number and diversity of new strains would likely increase, tapping into new consumer trends and flavors.
More strains also means that certain strains could be pinpointed and bred specifically for certain effects, whether for medical or recreational purposes.
But according to Pennington, perhaps the biggest implication is that “This sends a signal, clearly, to state legislators, state regulators, and to groups that lobby those folks… the federal law is more flexible than you assumed.”
States take their cue from the DEA when creating their own drug laws, so seeing the agency relax its stance on shipping cannabis genetics could cause states to follow suit, breaking down protectionist state laws.
This could also open up more accurate research on the plant, according to Pennington. For decades, cannabis research was limited to The University of Mississippi, which grew weed with a low potency, around 8% THC. However, most dispensaries sell cannabis with a THC percentage around 20%. Being able to ship genetics across the country would allow for more robust research into the plant, using strains that mirror what adults are actually buying in stores and consuming.
How binding is the DEA letter?
The DEA calls the letter an “official determination,” but whether or not they are legally bound to this position is a bit hazy.
“That to me sure seems like something the agency would either be bound to going forward or at least be very hesitant to deviate from in any kind of enforcement context,” said Pennington.
For now, the DEA’s acknowledgment that cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures are not controlled substances isn’t law, but it is a big step forward in relaxing restrictions on cannabis.
Can You Legally Buy Cannabis Seeds Online?
A substantial number of states allow medical marijuana, along with a growing number of places that have legalized recreational cannabis. The public is becoming more aware of the potential benefits of marijuana. People also realize that the damaging side effects of cannabis are often overstated, although some are real. Nonetheless, there is a softening in the stance towards the plant, which is even apparent on a political level.
As well as allowing people to use weed, an increasing number of states are relaxing restrictions on growing it at home.
You’ll need seeds to do so, but this is where it gets complicated for American residents in particular. Even if you live in California, where it is legal to grow cannabis at home, and purchase seeds from a Colorado-based seed bank, your package can STILL be confiscated.
Indeed, you could get in more trouble buying seeds from within the US than from an overseas country! This is the reason why most reputable seed banks that you hear about are located in Europe! This article delves deeper into the legality surrounding the purchase of cannabis seeds in the United States and offers tips to ensure you buy a high-quality product.
Marijuana Seeds Law
Cannabis remains a federally illegal substance in the United States. The plant’s seeds are also classified as cannabis, just like concentrate, flower, or edibles. As cannabis seeds are legal in certain states, seed banks operate within America’s borders. However, most of the best-known sellers operate in Canada or Europe. Let’s find out who can purchase seeds in the United States.
Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online in Any State?
As the nation’s cannabis laws state that the substance is federally illegal, it is technically against the law to buy, sell, or use it anywhere in the country. Indeed, the federal government could arrest someone for consuming cannabis if they so choose because federal law supersedes state law.
However, a majority of states allow medical marijuana, and a growing number permit adult-use cannabis. At present, the United States government has shown no indication that it wishes to interfere with a state’s right to legalize marijuana.
The current situation means you can legally get a cannabis seed from a dispensary in states where recreational cannabis is legal. In medical marijuana states, you’ll need to produce an MMJ card. Otherwise, you’re not allowed to purchase cannabis seeds.
Things are different online. It is illegal to transport cannabis seeds across state lines regardless of whether the plant is legal in both states. Therefore, you can only buy the seeds online if the seller is located within your state, and it is a location where adult-use marijuana is allowed.
Of course, you can take the risk of having your seeds confiscated by trying to order online anyway.
Is There Any Reputable American Seed Bank?
Although the United States is one of the world’s most progressive countries in marijuana legalization, the plant remains federally illegal. As long as this remains the case, users face all manner of complications. Ultimately, purchasing marijuana seeds online is only possible if you live in one of a select few states.
If you are concerned about legal issues, we recommend purchasing your seeds directly from a dispensary rather than buying them online. However, residents of Colorado should have no difficulties in theory. Stores such as The Farm and The Green Solution regularly advertise their online seed options. It should be a quick and easy process to buy them online if you are a resident of Colorado.
Elsewhere, it can be a matter of pot luck (pun intended). First and foremost, we can only recommend online seed purchases if you live in a state where growing marijuana at home is legal. If your package gets intercepted, you could face legal consequences, although this unfortunate situation is relatively rare.
You need a reputable seed bank capable of shipping to numerous states that understands the need for discretion. Such companies know how to package their goods to evade detection. If the seeds are confiscated, the firm will either send a new package for free or refund your money.
Which American Seeds Banks Are the Best?
California-based I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM) is one of the most trustworthy seed sellers we have found in the United States. The website and store are run by Robert Bergman, who is an expert marijuana cultivator. He offers dozens of options and provides FREE shipping to customers in the United States and Europe.
Rocket Seeds is another American seed bank with a positive reputation. It operates out of the Bronx, New York, and is famed for its rapid shipping.
There are numerous Canadian seed banks known for selling excellent products. Noteworthy brands include Crop Seed Kings, MJSeeds, and Beaver Seeds.
Certain online marijuana seed sellers in the United States try to use subterfuge to ensure their customers receive the seeds.
It is possible to buy seeds from stores only if they are ‘used’ as luxury bird food or fishing bait additives.
In February 2015, one month after cannabis legalization went into effect in Washington D.C., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign organized a ‘seed sharing’ event in the country’s capital. As part of the new law, anyone aged 21+ who attended the event was legally allowed to receive an ounce of seeds. Unfortunately, the laws surrounding purchasing marijuana seeds online in the US have remained as clear as mud in the years since.
European Marijuana Seed Banks
Many of the American seed banks that offer marijuana seeds source them from a seed bank in a European country. When we bemoan the issues that cause federal and state laws to become unclear and confusing, it is important to remember that the US is effectively a continent with 50 different states and additional territories.
Europe is also a continent, and it also has more than 50 countries. The laws surrounding marijuana seeds vary according to each nation but become less confusing because they are separate states. That’s not to say that things don’t become complex!
In principle, cannabis seeds are not illegal in Europe, and it is possible to purchase seeds from another country. In general, when a product enters a European country, it becomes subject to that nation’s laws. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, a 1962 framework for marijuana legalization, is an international treaty that was signed by 180 countries.
In the treaty, marijuana is classed as an illegal substance, but marijuana seeds are not illegal. As international law takes precedence over a country’s own laws, cannabis seeds are technically legal in all 180 countries. Alas, it isn’t as easy as that, and it is much safer to purchase seeds from one European country than another. Here’s a look at marijuana seed laws in a few major European nations:
- Germany: As seeds don’t fall under the German Narcotics Act, they are technically legal to purchase. However, Germany has prohibited the sale of cannabis seeds across the nation, the only EU member state to have done so. As Germany is subject to the EU’s free movement of goods, having seeds sent to Germany is fine.
- United Kingdom: At present, the UK allows for the purchase, sale, or trade of cannabis seeds whether you purchase them domestically or from another European nation. American buyers tend to use UK sellers such as Seedsman, who have been selling seeds globally since 2003. However, we’re not sure what will happen once the UK has left the EU. By the way, UK residents are not allowed to germinate cannabis seeds.
- Netherlands: It is shocking to learn that despite the nation’s relaxed attitude towards marijuana, it is still illegal! However, you should have no issue purchasing cannabis seeds from a Dutch-based seed company. Companies such as Nirvana, MSNL Seeds, and Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds also enjoy good reputations.
- France: Cannabis seeds are legal as long as they are not used for growing. However, you will struggle to find any reputable French cannabis seed dealer.
- Spain: Spain has a similarly lenient policy as the UK. Residents can buy and sell seeds as long as they are for personal use in private areas. Shops need legal authorization to sell seeds. Alicante-based Herbie’s Seeds is a highly rated seed bank.
Types of Marijuana Seeds Available
There are three distinct types of marijuana seeds.
Regular Marijuana Seeds
These seeds come from one female and one male parent. As a result, there is a 50/50 chance that the plant will be the feminized version that carries all of those wonderful cannabinoids. As you have no control of the plant’s gender, there is a chance that you’ll waste weeks waiting for the gender to be revealed.
Feminized Marijuana Seeds
You should purchase feminized seeds instead of their regular counterparts. These seeds have no male chromosomes and are guaranteed to provide resinous bud. In other words, you don’t have to wait for a guarantee which is NOT the case with ‘regular’ seeds.
Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds
This type of seed is your best option if you want to grow your weed indoors. These seeds have genetics that evolved in northern Eurasia which means they are strong and sturdy. They are mixed with Cannabis Ruderalis, a plant known for its ability to grow in harsh weather conditions.
One of the biggest advantages of autoflowering seeds is their ability to produce a minimum of two outdoor crops. When you grow them indoors, however, you can produce four or five crops per annum. Certain strains can become mature in just ten weeks! They are heavily resistant to mold and pests and produce a much higher yield when exposed to a powerful light source.
How to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online Safely
Your safest bet is to stick to one of the reputable seedbanks outlined in this article. Look for companies that have been in the industry for a long time and have earned a significant number of positive customer reviews.
When you purchase a packet of marijuana seeds, make sure the seller explains where the seeds came from and how they were crossed or backcrossed. Don’t risk your money on seeds with no history because there’s no way of telling what you’ll end up with.
The top-rated seed banks are old hands when it comes to getting their products through customs. Some of them offer discreet shipping, which usually involves hiding the seeds in other objects. Therefore, even if a customs official opens the package, it looks like someone else.
The perfect place for seeds…
For your part, it makes sense to make a few small or medium orders. First of all, a large order could draw unwanted attention. Secondly, if one of the packages is confiscated, you won’t lose your entire order.
Finally, you could consider paying via cryptocurrency. Digital currencies such as Bitcoin leave no official record. The issue here is that the volatility of crypto means your order could become expensive in hindsight. Imagine paying in Bitcoin, only to discover that the digital currency’s value doubles in the following two weeks!
Final Thoughts on Buying Marijuana Seeds Online
As much as we would love to provide a definitive answer to the title question, we have to admit that it is complicated. You can purchase seeds within most states where growing marijuana is legal, but the issue is clouded by the fact that marijuana is federally illegal. Then there is the small matter of the nuances of state and even local law.
You should be able to purchase from seed banks in the UK and Netherlands, but make sure you do your research and find a reputable company. The last thing you want is to buy what you think are feminized seeds, only to discover that they are regular seeds capable of producing male plants!
EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo
Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.
Will Customs Confiscate My Cannabis Seeds?
Yes, but only if they find them! Some reputable seed banks claim that customs confiscate only 5% of their shipments. A growing number of seed banks use discreet shipping. This involves sending additional ‘gifts’ you didn’t order to conceal the seeds. You’ll receive a confiscation letter instead of the seeds if your purchase is halted at customs. However, the top-rated seed banks tend to offer a money-back guarantee if this happens.
Is It Illegal to Send Seeds in the Mail?
As cannabis is federally illegal, transporting the plant’s seeds across state lines is against the law. This is the case even if you are sending them from one adult-use state to another. However, there is little chance of getting into legal trouble. For a start, it is possible to buy them for research or collectible purposes rather than using them to grow plants.
You’re more likely to get in trouble for sending marijuana seeds from one state to another in America than sending them into the US from abroad. However, it is rare to hear of anyone getting into legal trouble for sending cannabis seeds in the mail. Usually, the worst-case scenario is that your seeds are confiscated.
Why Are Most of the Top Seed Banks International?
It is mainly due to legal issues. The world’s best seed banks are generally located in places like the Netherlands, UK, and Spain, where marijuana laws aren’t as strict as in the United States. US cannabis law means an American seed bank faces greater legal issues when sending products from one state to another than their international equivalent.
However, there are a few high-quality American seed banks, such as I Love Growing Marijuana.
Can Non-Residents Buy Seeds Online?
It is not a good idea! As marijuana is federally legal, non-residents can be deported from the United States if they have a job in a legal cannabis dispensary! Indeed, even the use of legal marijuana can result in deportation. Therefore, we would urge non-residents NOT to purchase cannabis seeds online or in a dispensary. Even if there is a relatively small chance of being caught, it isn’t worth the risk.
Is Ordering Cannabis Seeds Online Safe?
The answer is ‘yes,’ but only as long as you buy the seeds from a reputable seed bank. Apart from I Love Growing Marijuana, MSNL Seed Bank, Crop Seed Kings, and Sensi Seeds have all established a reputation for high-quality seeds. These companies provide seeds with a high germination rate and offer an excellent range of strains.