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How Does The DEA Ruling Affect Medical Cannabis Grows?

Have you heard about the latest DEA ruling? Are you worried about its impact on growing cannabis? Are you confused about the ruling? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. In this article, we will help you understand the new DEA ruling and how it affects you.

Firstly, cannabis is federally prohibited; this isn’t changing right now.

However, here’s the good news: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has admitted that cannabis plant seeds are legal and impossible to control—regardless of how much THC might end up in the buds if growers grow these plants.

This declaration from the DEA is significant. Before this, society determined a marijuana product’s legality by whether the grower sourced it from hemp or marijuana. However, the new guidance ends this; as a result, society can determine the lawfulness of tissue culture, other genetic material, and Cannabis Seeds purely on delta-9 THC concentration.

DEA Guidance on Cannabis Seeds

The DEA recently reviewed the federal statute in response to an inquiry from attorney Shane Pennington over marijuana seed’s legality, tissue culture, and “other genetic material” that doesn’t contain over 0.3% THC.

The DEA confirmed that while it used to be the case that Cannabis Seeds were controlled, that’s no longer the case due to the federal legalization of hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill excluded hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of marijuana. Therefore, all aspects of the plant Cannabis sativa L. are not controlled if they don’t surpass 0.3% THC.

Terrence L. Boos, chief of the DEA’s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section, wrote: “Accordingly, marijuana seed that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis meets the definition of ‘hemp’ and thus is not controlled under the CSA.”

He added: “Conversely, marijuana seed having a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis is controlled in schedule I under the CSA as marijuana.”

In layman’s terms, because marijuana and hemp contain nominal THC levels that normally wouldn’t exceed the legal threshold, the DEA has noted that people can have Cannabis Seeds regardless of how much THC the plant produces.

However, it remains illegal to use any Cannabis Seeds with the intent of growing still-prohibited cannabis. What’s more, the DEA’s guidance doesn’t address whether the U.S. legal system would prosecute people if their seeds were to exceed the 0.3% THC threshold.

Other Guidance From the DEA

The DEA letter also suggests that other materials that growers extract from the plant—such as tissue culture and any other genetic material that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent—match the definition of hemp. As a result, the CSA doesn’t control them.

However, always remember that despite hemp and Cannabis Seeds containing THC levels that don’t exceed 0.3%, that doesn’t mean they will always fall below the 0.3% threshold. Despite the cannabis laws in your state, remember that it remains federally illegal to grow Cannabis Seeds with the intent of growing marijuana.

In addition, remember that the DEA’s letter is just guidance. It doesn’t have the full effect and force of the law or official DEA regulation.

What Has the Cannabis Industry Said?

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

“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.”

“I’m hopeful this will clear up a lot of confusion in this area of law,” he added.

What Have Lawmakers Said?

Due to the risk posed by the DEA’s interpretation, the Hemp Industries Association and RE Botanicals, Inc., have challenged the DEA’s authority. Converting raw hemp with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC into consumer products with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC presents a risk. Lawmakers have taken notice.

Nine congressmen sent a letter to the DEA after they announced the interim final rule suggesting they revise the rule. The authors wrote: “Since the Farm Bill legalized hemp along with hemp derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids, it logically follows that the only viable methods for processing hemp into those derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids would also be legal.”

In 2022, Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine started the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022; this clarifies that hemp extracts made during the hemp production process that surpass the 0.3% THC threshold will still be legally considered hemp and therefore banned from the CSA Schedule I listings and DEA control.

So, if the Hemp Industries Association and RE Botanicals fail in their lawsuits, Congress may take action to safeguard hemp growers from DEA enforcement anyway, which is fantastic news for hemp producers.

The Penalties for Growing Marijuana Illegally

If you live in a state that doesn’t allow the cultivation of cannabis, you may face criminal charges. Even with a medical marijuana card, your state’s regulations may limit you from home-growing weed.

Penalties for growing weed at home may include jail time, fines, and even property seizure. However, the penalties for growing cannabis at home depend on several factors, such as:

  • Number of cannabis plants
  • Evidence of producing pot for sale
  • Other drugs manufactured or grown
  • Prior criminal record

Ensure you check the laws within your state before growing cannabis to avoid any issues. The following states allow citizens to grow limited marijuana for medical usage:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

In Summary

The DEA’s ruling doesn’t change the medical standing of cannabis. However, it does allow Cannabis Seeds to be considered hemp or medical rather than recreational. Overall, it’s good news for the cannabis industry and growers.

Light Schedules: How To Use Them And Why They Are Important

When cultivating cannabis, few things are as crucial as proper light schedules. As a photoperiod plant, the amount of light your plant receives will dictate when it starts flowering and how heavy the harvest will be. By giving your cannabis plant 12 hours of darkness (uninterrupted) per day, they will begin to flower.

To maximize your ability to find success cultivating cannabis, we need to understand how to maximize the effectiveness of our lighting schedule though.

Today, we will take a deep dive into light schedules for Cannabis Seeds and the changes they must undergo for indoor and outdoor operations.

What Are Light Schedules?

Light schedules involve the cycle of darkness and light used to bolster the growth of your plant. As cannabis plants require intense levels of light with changing needs throughout their growth, cultivators must be ready to change their system to meet the needs of their plants.

We can see how scheduled lighting can change based on the stage of your plant’s growth.

Stage 1: Light Schedule for Cannabis Seedlings

Every great cannabis plant began as a seedling. After you’ve acquired your seeds and have properly germinated them, you are ready to introduce a lighting schedule. At this stage of your plant’s growth, it is considered a seedling. Seedlings may have small roots, but they are not yet ready to be transplanted.

To maximize the lighting schedule of your seedlings, give the plant plenty of energy so that it can develop its root system. Developing a functioning root system is an energy-intensive task and thus requires roughly 18 hours of light per day with 6 hours of darkness to follow.

Growers have been experimenting with lighting schedules in the seedling phase since the first Cannabis Seeds were cultivated. Some growers opt for 20 hours of light with 4 hours of darkness to pump up the efficiency of their operation while still giving their plants time to catch their breath.

Here’s a warning though, seedlings do not require bright lights to prosper or grow well. Lights that overpower your seedlings can end up harming them, reducing their ability to grow healthily. Use weaker bulbs or dimmer lights to protect your plants from heat and potential burns.

Unless you are working with autoflowering seeds, opt for an 18/6 or 20/4 light schedule.

Stage 2: Entering the Vegetative Stage

As one of the most important times in a plant’s life cycle, the vegetative stage must be carefully monitored to maximize later success. This stage is when the plant grows both taller and wider, developing stems, leaves, and the other biological matter necessary for its bud sites to flourish.

Whether you’re working with outdoor or indoor plants, you must provide them with at least 13 hours of light per day. Growers can potentially keep their plants in the vegetative state forever so long as they maintain short nights with a proper light schedule.

To maximize the growth of your plant while it is in this state, provide up to 24 hours of light per day. Some growers will opt for an 18/6 schedule to provide relief at night for their plants while still encouraging quick growth during those daylight hours.

For outdoor growers, you will see your plants transition from the vegetative stage late into the spring or early into summer, though every strain is different.

Can I Avoid Light Schedules?

For novice to intermediate growers, avoiding lighting schedules can be as simple as opting for autoflowering seeds. Autoflowering seeds are strains that will flower automatically after roughly three months, no matter what lighting is provided by their grower. More simple and easier to implement than traditional outdoor Cannabis Seeds, autoflowering strains are a great way to get your first plants started.

With this being said though it’s important to pay attention to your seedbank’s instructions to make sure that you can find the right autoflowering strains for your operation.

Stage 3: Entering the Flowering Stage

With the vegetative state behind us, it is time to look ahead to the third and final phase of these plants’ life cycles. This stage occurs naturally for outdoor growers when their plants get 12 hours of sunlight per day. Outdoor flowering stages can last between 8 and 12 weeks, depending on the strain, the growing environment, and the health of the plant.

For indoor growers, a lighting schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off will help to initiate the flowering cycle. Once the cultivator has changed their lights over to this 12/12 schedule, they will have roughly six weeks to five months of growing time before their plants are ready for harvest.

Note For ALL Growers: Avoid any light pollution at night. Make sure that the plants are not exposed to light during the night or dark periods, even from spotlights or streetlights. Light pollution can confuse your cannabis plants, thus preventing them from flowering properly.

Working With Autoflowering Strains

The world of autoflowering strains has fundamentally changed how many folks approach cannabis cultivation. Autoflowering cannabis plants are plants that have been crossbred with Cannabis Ruderalis. The resulting plant is a cannabis plant that flowers based on time rather than the light/dark schedule put in place by the grower.

Autoflowers traditionally have a short vegetative phase without the need to switch to a 12/12 schedule during flowering. Some growers will grow autoflowering strains with an 18/6 light cycle throughout the entire duration of their plant’s growth.

Light schedule suggestions for autoflowering cannabis include:

  • 12 / 12 –  Having a lighter energy load, a 12/12 schedule should lead to lower light intake, lower yields, and a less productive plant.
  • 18 / 6 – With 18 hours of daylight and 6 hours of rest, autoflowering plants tend to prosper the most under this schedule.
  • 20 / 4 – This is an experimental lighting schedule that is said to maximize the overall productivity of the plant.

Properly lighting your cannabis plant is one of the most important steps in their growth. Seedlings don’t need a ton of light, vegging plants demand a lot of energy, and flowering plants must have at least 12 hours of darkness per night. With this all being said though, you should always be ready to experiment with your scheduling as genetics may cause variation between strains that might impact your overall results.

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