A guide to buying cannabis seeds
The first couple months of the year is a great time to start planning your cannabis garden to get a head start on the outdoor growing season, which roughly runs from March to November, depending on where you live.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be challenging when states have different degrees of legality. This guide will answer your questions on buying seeds so you can be on your way to growing your own cannabis.
Is it legal to buy marijuana seeds?
Marijuana seeds are considered a cannabis product just like flower, edibles, and concentrates. Their legality depends on which state you live in. People living in states with adult-use legalization can buy, produce, and sell seeds within their own state, but seeds can’t cross state lines. People living in states with medical marijuana legalization can only buy seeds if they have a medical card.
Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell them for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds they find in packages or on a person.
Where can I buy cannabis seeds?
Many world-renowned seed banks are overseas in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and other countries where cannabis laws are less restricted. Seed banks provide seeds from a variety of different breeders.
In states with adult-use legalization or a medical marijuana program, you can buy seeds within your own state, either at a dispensary or through a specific seed company’s website.
How to buy cannabis seeds online
Before you purchase seeds online, you’ll need to figure out what strain you want to grow and what breeder you want to buy from.
Because US federal law still prohibits cannabis, it can be hard to find information on seed banks and breeders. Breeders who have a long history and positive reputation are usually a good place to start. To get an idea of what well-established breeders look like, check out:
- Sensi Seeds
- DNA Genetics
- Green House Seeds
- Southern Humboldt Seed Collective
- Exotic Genetix
You can also do some research and find an online grow journal that details the whole growing process of a specific strain from a particular breeder. Through these, you’ll be able to look over another grower’s specific notes and see pictures of the final results.
If you grow some seeds and like the results, try growing another strain from that same breeder and see how it goes.
How to buy cannabis seeds at a dispensary
Although this option is only available to people living in states with medical and adult-use legalization, buying marijuana seeds at the dispensary is far more straightforward. However, your options are more limited.
Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.
How to look for quality genetics when buying marijuana seeds
Breeders talk about “unstable genetics,” meaning that a seed’s origin is unknown. Make sure that when you buy a packet of seeds that it or the breeder who produced them can list where the seeds came from and how they were crossed and/or backcrossed to get the seed that you hold in your hand. If you can’t get a seed’s history, it could be anything and the result of poor breeding practices.
An inexperienced breeder might cross a male and a female one time and sell the resulting seeds as a new hybrid strain, but professional breeders usually put their strains through several rounds of backcrossing to stabilize the genetics and ensure consistent plants that reflect those genetics.
Which strain should I grow?
Even one weed plant can produce a lot of buds come harvest time, so make sure you grow a strain you like. Note strains you enjoy when you pick something up at the dispensary or smoke with friends, and look for seeds of it when you want to start growing.
Some strains are easier to grow than others because they are more resistant to mold and pests, so if you’re new to growing, you may want to try an easier strain to start.
Some strains also take longer to grow than others. Depending on whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you may want to grow a quicker marijuana strain if you live in a climate that get cold and wet early in the season. For example, indicas are known for having a shorter flowering time than sativas.
All of this information should be available to you when buying quality seeds.
What’s the difference between regular, feminized, and autoflower seeds?
If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.
Seeds can come feminized, meaning you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.
It also reduces the risk of having a stray male sneak into your crop—just one male can pollinate a huge crop, causing your females to focus their energies on producing seeds instead of buds.
Autoflower plants change from the vegetative to flowering state with age, not the changing of their light cycle. They have a short grow-to-harvest time and can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 ½ to 3 months from when you put the seeds in the ground. The downside is that, typically, they are less potent, but autoflower seeds are great for people who want to grow cannabis but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
How much do marijuana seeds cost?
Cannabis seeds usually come in a pack of 10 or 12 seeds and start at around $40 a pack and go up from there. Some high-end genetics can run between $200 to $500 a pack.
Feminized and autoflower seeds will cost more because more breeding work was put in to creating them and they take less time for the grower to get buds.
How many seeds should I buy? Are they all going to survive?
When you grow any amount of seeds, a percentage of them won’t germinate, even if you get them from a reputable breeder. Always count on a few not germinating or dying off, or roughly 1/4 of the total you put in the ground.
When growing regular seeds, some won’t germinate and some will have to be discarded because they’ll turn out to be males. With feminized seeds, some won’t germinate, but a higher percentage of them will turn into flowering plants because there won’t be any males.
If you want six total cannabis plants to harvest for buds and are growing from regular seeds, start with about 4 times as many, or 24 seeds. Some won’t germinate and some will turn out to be males, and then you’ll want to discard down to the six best phenotypes. If growing feminized seeds, you can probably start with about twice as many seeds in this case (about 12); a couple won’t germinate, and then discard down to the six best phenotypes.
Make sure to always stay within your state’s legal limit of growing plants.
How do I buy strain-specific cannabis seeds?
Strains like Blue Dream, Gelato, and Original Glue have gained in popularity in recent years. Check out these resources on how to buy these types of cannabis seeds:
Pat Goggins contributed to this article.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be tricky from a legal perspective. Get the answer to your top questions about buying cannabis seeds today.
How to buy marijuana seeds
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- How do marijuana laws affect buying cannabis seeds?
- Plan Ahead
- How to buy marijuana seeds online
- How to buy cannabis seeds in a brick-and-mortar store
- Bottom line
Many cannabis consumers like the idea of growing their own marijuana plant — whether the plants are used for recreational purposes or to produce medical marijuana . Very often, people find it incredibly rewarding to consume cannabis that they grew themselves, and many enjoy being able to nurture their plant all the way from the seed to the final harvest.
Marijuana seeds are now easier to find and purchase than ever before. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Fortunately, marijuana seeds are now easier to find and purchase than ever before. That said, the way you go about buying marijuana seeds is still very dependent on the laws in your area. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to purchase marijuana seeds .
How do marijuana laws affect buying cannabis seeds?
The law is the first thing to take into consideration. Before doing anything else, you’ll want to double and triple check the laws in your area about which types of cannabis products you’re allowed to purchase as well as any laws about growing weed at home. This is important because the legal status of both cannabis products and home-growing cannabis will in large part dictate where and how you buy your seeds . If you live in a state where it is legal to grow weed at home and there are not that many restrictions on home growing, then you’ll likely be able to buy cannabis directly from your favorite licensed dispensary. In some cases, you may even have the option of buying from a brick-and-mortar retailer or an online retailer.
However you go about buying your cannabis seeds , you need to plan ahead. Here are some of the most important factors you need to think about to ensure that the marijuana seeds you buy will meet your needs and objectives.
Indica, sativa, or hybrid
There is a seemingly endless variety of cannabis strains now in existence. Before buying marijuana seeds you need to know what kind of weed you want to grow. Start off by figuring out if you want to grow an indica-dominant , sativa-dominant , or hybrid strain. As a broad generalization, indica-dominant strains tend to produce effects more pronounced in the body, often contributing to pain relief, relaxation, and feelings of sedation or even sleepiness. Sativa-dominant strains are typically recognized as producing more cerebral highs that can be energizing and mentally stimulating. Hybrid strains produce a variety of effects depending on the specific mother strains used to create the hybrid.
Which strain do you want to grow?
Beyond the three main categories of indica, sativa, and hybrid, you should also figure out which specific strain you want to grow. If you are not totally sure which strain you want to grow, or you’re curious to learn about other strains that you might not be familiar with, browse through the online catalogs of reputable seed banks and read about the various strains currently available.
When you’ve decided which strain you want to grow, be sure to do a bit of research to familiarize yourself with the unique growing needs and specifications of that strain. While there are general guidelines for growing any type of cannabis, different strains also have their own specific needs. Similarly, some strains do better in specific parts of the world or climates. You should grow a strain that is well-suited to the growing environment you will be creating for your plants .
Growing indoors or outdoors?
You also need to decide if you will be growing your marijuana indoors or outdoors. Growing inside gives you a bit more flexibility as you can control and fine-tune the growing culture for your plants . This gives you more freedom in terms of which seeds you decide to buy. If you plan on growing outside, you should probably spend a bit more time researching the specific seeds you want to purchase to make sure they will thrive in your unique climate and environment.
Growing inside gives you a bit more flexibility as you can control and fine-tune the growing culture for your plants. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Regular seeds, feminized seeds, or autoflowering seeds?
If you browse through seeds being sold at a dispensary or an online store, you will immediately see some seeds described as feminized or autoflowering. A vital part of understanding how to buy cannabis seeds is understanding the differences in the types of seeds being sold.
Depending on how a seed has been bred, you can purchase regular cannabis seeds , feminized cannabis seeds , or autoflowering cannabis seeds . These are not strains of marijuana ; they are categories that refer to the sex and maturation process of the seeds .
When you buy regular seeds , some will grow up to produce male plants and others will grow into female plants . You need to be aware of this because growing regular seeds requires you to pay close attention to the sex of each plant so that you can get rid of any males plants that show up. Male marijuana plants do not produce flowers, and therefore will not give you anything to smoke. Even worse, males will pollinate your female plants , producing low quality buds that are full of seeds . If you plant regular seeds , you should plan on buying more seeds than you might actually need, as a higher percentage of these seeds will produce male plants .
On the other hand, feminized seeds have been bred to produce only female plants . This means you won’t need to buy quite as many seeds because a higher percentage of the seeds you plant will grow into productive females. However, feminized seeds are not fail-proof, so you should still pay attention to the sex of your plants as they mature so you can spot and eliminate any males that might pop up. In general, feminized seeds are easier and more straightforward to grow.
Finally, autoflowering seeds have more to do with the growth cycle of the marijuana plant. When growing regular seeds , you will need to adjust the type and amount of light your plant receives in order to trigger the flowering process. But autoflowering seeds have been genetically designed to produce a plant that automatically flowers without you needing to be fully on top of altering the light your plant receives.
Autoflowering seeds have been genetically designed to produce a plant that automatically flowers without you needing to be fully on top of altering the light your plant receives. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
How many plants do you want to grow?
Regardless of the strain you buy, or if you buy regular seeds , feminized seeds , or autoflowering seeds , you should have an idea of how many plants you’ll want to grow. It’s also a good idea to circle back to your area’s laws and check the number of plants you’re legally allowed to grow.
You should always plan on a certain percentage of your seeds failing to germinate or growing into weak and unviable plants . Understanding this, you should plan on purchasing more seeds than you think you will need. As a general guideline, assume that at least 25% of the seeds you plant will, for one reason or another, not make it to harvest. For best results, buy and plant more seeds than the number of mature plants you want to produce.
How to buy marijuana seeds online
Buying seeds online is in many ways the simplest way to purchase cannabis seeds . Buying online makes it convenient to research and learn about the various strains you can grow. Online retailers often have a larger selection to choose from than smaller brick-and-mortar retailers.
At the same time, there are some potential drawbacks to buying seeds from an online store. For one, some weed-legal locations still outlaw buying and shipping seeds across state or national borders. There are also issues of reliability. If you want to buy from an online seed bank , take some time researching the company. Make sure they are reputable and in good standing with their customers.
How to buy cannabis seeds in a brick-and-mortar store
Buying seeds directly from a brick-and-mortar shop gives you the benefit of being able to talk to an expert before making your purchase. Make sure the dispensary you’re buying from has budtenders who are experienced with the growing process.
Here are a few questions you should ask your budtender before making a purchase:
- What is the potency of the strain? If you are looking to buy seeds with a high THC level in the mature plant, you should ask if the strain tends to produce plants with high THC levels or high CBD levels.
- Are the seeds designed to grow into mature plants with high yields ?
- Are these seeds better suited for medical marijuana or recreational marijuana ?
In many ways, buying marijuana seeds is very much like buying anything else related to cannabis. Even in places where weed is legal, seeds are generally considered cannabis products the same as flower, edibles, oils, and anything else coming from the cannabis plant. For that reason, you should always pay very close attention to the legal status of marijuana seeds in your area. It may be easier today than ever before to find and buy high-quality seeds , but you’ll want to take the time to research your options before you make that final purchase.
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