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.
Is It Illegal To Send Seeds In The Mail?
Last updated November 10, 2020 By Steven 3 Comments
Most people asking if it is illegal to send seeds in the mail are talking about cannabis seeds.
That’s why we’ll cover both marijuana seeds and other types of seeds in this article. We’ll begin with weed and discuss the legality of sending and receiving the seeds in the US and several other countries.
Then we’ll touch on other types of seeds—ones that are not illegal to own, but that may be illegal to send. Seeds can be a tricky area, especially if sending them across international borders.
Before we get to that: a warning. Actually, two warnings. First, nothing written on this page, or indeed anywhere on this site, constitutes legal advice. Second, we do not condone any illegal activity. If it is not legal for you to send or receive certain seeds, do not do it.
Is It Illegal To Send Weed Seeds In The Mail?
Obviously the legality of mailing marijuana seeds varies from one location to the next. We can’t cover every country, much less every region in every country, in the world, so we’ll focus on those countries where the majority of our readers reside. And number one, by far, is the United States
Laws in the US are a mess. In some states, you can legally grow weed. In others, you can’t even smoke a tiny bit if you are dying from cancer and in tremendous pain.
When it comes to seeds, the confusion only gets worse. Seeds don’t contain THC and they have plenty of uses besides growing cannabis. You can eat them for their proteins, you can use them for fishing, you can buy them as collectibles and more.
As a result, pot seeds are legal in some jurisdictions where growing or smoking weed is illegal. As long as you do not plant the seeds, you are fine.
However, if you transport them across state lines, you are breaking the law. Seeds are a marijuana product and any marijuana products are illegal at the federal level.
The good news is that it is highly unlikely you will get in trouble, even if you get caught buying seeds online and having them shipped from another states. Generally, they are only confiscated, but there is always a risk of more happening.
The same is true for seeds bought from an international seed bank. There is a minuscule chance they could be confiscated by customs, but if it does happen, you’ll simply get a note informing you of this. You will not be arrested.
Any good seed bank offers stealth shipping, in which they hide the seeds inside some other object. In this way, they can easily get past a customs inspection.
The I Love Growing Marijuana seed bank is our favorite for ordering to the US, because they have great strains at excellent prices and they ship everything stealth (and for free). If your package doers not arrive, they will send you a new one.
They also offer a germination guarantee, so you get new seeds if yours don’t germinate. This bank is based in the Netherlands, but they also have a warehouse in California. That means shipping is a lot faster to the US than most other stores. The also have excellent customer service.
We also get quite a few readers from Europe, with most of them being in the UK. There, you can legally purchase and sell cannabis seeds (but not germinate them, both domestically or from other European countries. In fact, many American buyers use long-established UK sellers, like Seedsman.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs from 1962 classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, but not marijuana seeds. This treaty was signed by 180 countries and it takes precedence over national laws in Europe, which makes weed seeds technically legal everywhere in Europe.
For example, the sale of pot seeds is prohibited in Germany, but due to the international treaty, having seeds delivered to Germany from another European nation is not illegal.
You can basically have seeds delivered anywhere in western Europe. Spain is the most lax country, which is why several seed banks are located there, along with Holland and the UK. Due to the treaty, you should be fine in eastern Europe, too, but most eastern countries are a lot more strict when it comes to cannabis.
If buying seeds in Europe, we generally recommend one of the log-established banks. The aforementioned Seedsman is good, but our favorite is Marijuana Seeds NL.
They are also a great choice if shipping to the US. They are very secure and they have great strains and amazing prices, but shipping times are much longer than our top recommendation for US based customers, I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM).
In Canada, you can legally grow up to four plants per household (get a large grow tent and make those 4 plants HUGE, unless you are in one of the provinces that restricts your grow space). But you have to buy your seeds domestically.
That is far from ideal, since there are very few places that sell seeds legally and their selection is extremely limited. Most Canadian growers end up buying seeds online from a seed bank in another country. But one of the best seed banks is actually headquartered in Vancouver: Crop King Seeds. That’s who we recommend for Canadians.
Growing weed and buying seeds is perfectly legal in Australia—if you have a prescription for medicinal marijuana. If you do not, you can’t buy seeds. Many seed shipments end up getting confiscated and a number of seed banks have stopped shipping to Australia entirely as a result. There are now almost as few shipping to Australia, as there are seed banks than take PayPal.
ILGM still ships there, however. They do a great job of concealing the seeds with their stealth shipments, so most end up getting through. And if they don’t, they will send you a new shipment.
Buying or possessing weed seeds is illegal in New Zealand. The only way to buy them if you live in New Zealand is to order them from an online seed bank. Many don’t ship to NZ, but Marijuana Seeds NL ships all over the world, so they’re your best bet here.
Is It Illegal To Send Other Seeds In The Mail?
Other types of seeds, legal seeds, are obviously allowed anywhere in the United States or any of the other countries mentioned above. You can buy them, sell them and grow them.
But you can’t always ship them or receive them in the mail.
The general rule is that any plant deemed an invasive species or dangerous in some other way (e.g. it is poisonous) can not be shipped across state lines in the US and can also not be sent to the US from overseas. Most other countries have similar restrictions. In fact, if shipping internationally, you probably can’t send any types of seeds, without the proper permits and certificates.
If you buy from an online store, it should warn you if you are attempting to buy a species that can’t be mailed. In fact, at the time of writing, Amazon had just banned all seed sales from overseas to the US, due to unidentified seed packets being mailed from China.
If you are simply trying to send seeds to a friend, or have a friend send some to you, you’re going to have to do a bit of research.
There are far too many plant species to list here and different jurisdictions deem different plants dangerous or invasive. You’ll need to find out whether the species you want to send or receive can legally be shipped to or from your location.
When packing seeds, do not simply put them inside a regular envelope. They will likely get crushed by the post office’s equipment. Put them inside a bubble type envelope or something similar, to ensure they are protected.
Legality Of Mailing Seeds: Final Thoughts
We want to restate that nothing contained in this article should be taken as legal advice. We are not lawyers and do not know the ins and outs of the law. And when it comes to the laws governing cannabis, even lawyers generally have no real idea of what is going on.
Things are completely different from one jurisdiction to another. On top of that, they are constantly changing. I hope the guidelines we gave you above helped you somewhat, but if you are planning on sending or receiving any kind of seeds, but especially marijuana seeds, we strongly encourage you to do your own research as to the legal situation.
And if it turn out it is illegal to do so, please do not do it. We do not encourage breaking the law. However, if it is legal we strongly encourage you to buy your seeds online, if you do not have a local supplier. Don’t use bagseed.
Wondering whether it is illegal to send seeds in the mail? We cover both cannabis seeds and other types, because the laws for all are complex. Did you know that…