Dea Cannabis Seeds

DEA Voices New Cannabis Seeds Decision The agency revealed in a legal decision that cannabis seeds, clones and other genetic material containing less than 0.3% THC are legally hemp and therefore DEA says cannabis seeds are considered legal hemp when below THC limit Cannabis might be federally prohibited, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has effectively acknowledged that the WHAT IS MARIJUANA? Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, produced by the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana contains over 480 constituents. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is believed to be the main ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect. WHAT IS ITS ORIGIN? Marijuana is grown in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Caribbean, and Asia. It can be cultivated in both outdoor and indoor settings.

DEA Voices New Cannabis Seeds Decision

The agency revealed in a legal decision that cannabis seeds, clones and other genetic material containing less than 0.3% THC are legally hemp and therefore not subject to federal control.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a legal interpretation that acknowledges that cannabis seeds, tissue culture samples and other genetic material with less than 0.3% THC are legal hemp products not subject to federal prohibitions on marijuana. The DEA cannabis seeds decision was revealed its decision in a letter to Shane Pennington, an attorney focusing on cannabis law and litigation with the legal firm Vicente Sederberg LLP.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, which was defined as any part of the cannabis plant, including the seeds, with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the most commonly known form of THC) concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. In November 2021, Pennington sent a letter to the DEA seeking a determination whether cannabis seeds, clones and other genetic material with no more than 0.3% THC are subject to federal control. This April, he received a reply from the agency, which he shared in his Substack column “On Drugs”on April 4.

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In a January letter to Pennington, Terrence L. Boos, the chief of the Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section of the DEA, wrote that “marijuana seed that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis meets the definition of ‘hemp’ and thus is not controlled under the CSA. Conversely, marijuana seed having a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis is controlled in schedule I under the CSA as marijuana.”

Source Rule Questioned

The decision calls into question the veracity of the so-called source rule, a legal theory that holds the legality of cannabis material is dependent on the source from which it was derived—federally illegal marijuana or legal hemp. Under the theory, any seeds, clones or other plant material sourced from cannabis with less than 0.3% THC (i.e., hemp) is legal to possess, process and sell.

“In my view, the letter is significant because we continue to see confusion over the source rule—the argument that the legal status of a cannabis product hinges on whether it’s ‘sourced’ from marijuana or hemp—influencing legislative proposals even at the federal level,” Pennington told Marijuana Moment.

In addition to seeds, the letter from the DEA also acknowledges that “other material that’s derived or extracted from the cannabis plant such as tissue culture and any other genetic material that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis meets the definition of “hemp” and thus isn’t controlled under the CSA.”

Pennington says he is hopeful this will clear up a lot of confusion in this area of the law.

“Now that we know that the legality of the ultimate ‘source’ of both hemp and marijuana plants (their seeds) hinges on delta-9 THC concentration alone, reliance on the source rule is much harder to defend,” he said.

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DEA Decision Doesn’t Change Law

In an email, Pennington noted that the DEA’s decision doesn’t change the law. Instead, the letter reveals how the DEA is interpreting existing law, namely the Controlled Substances Act. Pennington wrote that the “DEA’s view of the control status of various substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act is authoritative, and many people assumed DEA’s authoritative view was more restrictive.”

“Now that people know that DEA agrees that seeds, tissue cultures and any other genetic material with not more than .03% delta-9 THC by dry weight isn’t subject to control under the Controlled Substances Act, it feels to them like the law has changed,” he continued in an email to Cannabis Now. “In fact, though, this letter simply revealed what DEA very likely thought all along.”

But the attorney also noted that the decision is limited in scope and doesn’t mean that cannabis companies will be permitted to freely send their genetics across state lines. The DEA only found that cannabis seeds, clones and genetic material with less than 0.3% THC aren’t subject to control under the Controlled Substances Act and “there are many other state and federal laws and regulations that may apply to any proposed interstate shipment of cultivars.”

The DEA cannabis seeds decision is another example of the reach of the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. Last year, the DEA clarified to state regulators that delta-8 THC, an intoxicating cannabinoid that can be processed from hemp, is also not under the control of the Controlled Substances Act.

DEA says cannabis seeds are considered legal hemp when below THC limit

Cannabis might be federally prohibited, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has effectively acknowledged that the plant’s seeds are generally uncontrolled and legal, regardless of how much THC might end up being produced in buds if those seeds were cultivated.

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DEA recently carried out a review of federal statute and implementing regulations in response to an inquiry from attorney Shane Pennington regarding the legality of cannabis seeds, tissue culture and “other genetic material” containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The agency affirmed that while it used to be the case that cannabis seeds were controlled—full stop—that’s no longer the case because of the federal legalization of hemp, as Pennington discussed in an edition of his On Drugs newsletter on Substack on Monday.

Following the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been excluded from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of cannabis, making it so all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. are uncontrolled as long as they don’t exceed 0.3 percent THC.

Cannabis

Matthew J. Strait, Senior Policy Advisor, Diversion Control Division-DEA; Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee-Subcommittee on Health, for a Hearing Entitled: Cannabis Policy-For the New Decade

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