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:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
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.