Quality cannabis seeds are expensive, and most of us only get to grow a few each year. Starting your grow with great genetics is the first important step in cultivating quality cannabis. Don’t let the frigid temperatures discourage you—spring is on its way. That means it’s time to prepare for your outdoor garden. Here’s all you need to know about buying cannabis seeds as you plan for the grow season.
Buying Cannabis Seeds – 10 things you need to know
Quality cannabis seeds are expensive, and most of us only get to grow a few each year. Starting your grow with great genetics is the first step in cultivating quality cannabis.
This article will answer your burning questions and provide you with everything you need to know to buy cannabis seeds that will meet your high expectations.
10 Burning Questions about Buying Cannabis Seeds
Is This Legal?
Who Can I Trust?
Why Original Packaging?
Why Buy Feminized Seed?
What About Hermies?
What are Photoperiod Seeds?
What are Autoflower Seeds?
What are Fast Strains?
Sativa or Indica?
What Kind of Hybrid?
1. Is this legal?
You need to do your homework to ensure that purchasing seeds is legal in your area.
Cannabis seeds do not contain THC and are often sold legally as a “novelty” even in jurisdictions where personal growing is not permitted. Cannabis seeds will often be confiscated if they are found by mail carriers and most seed banks offer discrete packaging to avoid this eventuality.
2. Who can I trust?
Established seed banks, operating in jurisdictions where their business is legal are the most reliable sources for quality cannabis seeds. I have purchased seeds from Seedsman for many years and they have always served me well.
Reputable seed banks sell seeds from many different breeders in original packaging, accept payment in multiple formats, fulfill orders immediately, and can provide postal tracking on request.
There are lots of players out there, so if you buy from Bob on the internet, it is buyer beware.
3. Why original packaging?
Reputable breeders do not supply bulk cannabis seeds to seed banks for repackaging and distribution.
When a breeder’s reputation is at stake, they want to ensure that you are receiving fresh seeds that have been properly packaged for longevity.
“Seed Banks” that sell hundreds of varieties under their own brand are usually just copying the hard work of others and slapping a cool name on the package.
The price of seeds is similar whether you buy from a bank or a pirate, so it is worth it to find a reputable seed bank and only buy seeds in original breeder packaging.
4. Why buy feminized seed?
Cannabis is special in many ways. One of these is dioecy. As you are probably aware, dioecy means that there are both male and female cannabis plants. Female plants are desirable for production of fragrant flowers, and males are usually culled to avoid seeding.
Feminized seeds have been bred to produce only female plants, where regular seeds usually produce about 50% male and 50% female plants. It can take 6-8 weeks of growth before it is possible to visually identify male from female plants. If you are only growing a few plants at a time, you want to be sure that they are all female from the very beginning.
5. What about hermies?
Whether you purchase feminized, or regular seeds, a small percentage of plants can be intersex plants, or hermies. This means that both male and female flowers can be produced on the same plant. This is no bueno for production of sinsemilla flowers.
The best way to avoid intersex plants is to purchase your seeds from a reputable breeder who stress tests their genetics to avoid using intersex plants in their breeding program. Well made seeds from experienced breeders will have 1 or 2 plants in a thousand that express intersex tendencies. Most home growers will never experience an intersex plant if they buy quality feminized seeds and avoid the hype strains that are commonly made from untested “elite” clones.
6. What are photoperiod seeds?
Most cannabis plants are known as short-day plants, meaning that they will not start flowering until they experience short days and long nights.
Short-day cannabis plants usually require day lengths of no longer that 13-14 hours to initiate flowering once they have reached maturity.
If you are growing outdoors, it is important to know the critical photoperiod of your strain, and the seasonal daylength in your area to plan your harvest for ideal seasonal weather conditions.
Mid April to mid-May is usually the best time to plant seeds outdoors in the Northern Hemisphere.
Outdoor growers will benefit from sourcing seeds that have been bred outdoors, as these strains are more likely to display resistance to some of the pests present in outdoor growing environments. The breeders guidance as to harvest time is also more accurate. Breeders like the Humboldt Seed Company, and Paradise Seeds have bred resistant, productive genetics for outdoor growers for decades.
If you are growing indoors, you can control the photoperiod, and most growers will set 18-hour days for vegetative growth and reduce the light to 12 hours when the plants are large enough for flowering. Short-day plants are usually the best choice for indoor growers who will keep clones of their favorite plants for year-round production.
7. What are autoflower seeds?
In contrast to photoperiod seeds, autoflowering seeds will begin flowering as soon as they are mature.
This flowering stage usually begins about 3 weeks after the seed is germinated.
Because of this feature, quality autoflower strains are often the best choice for an outdoor or patio garden.
Knowing how many days are required from sowing seeds to harvesting flower allows outdoor growers to harvest at the best time of the year regardless of photoperiod.
Autos have come a long way in the past few years. Breeders like Sweet Seeds and Mephisto are regularly releasing new strains that produce weed that is over 20% THC with great terpene profiles.
Autos tend to be a bit smaller than full season plants and can be tricky to grow because they have a short lifecycle (70-100 days) and there is not much time to recover from stressful events.
8. What are Fast Strains?
Cannabis strains that will begin flowering during 14-16 hour days are sometimes referred to as photoperiod sensitive, or Fast strains.
Fast strains can be created by cross breeding photoperiod and autoflower strains.
Fast strains will often begin flowering if they become root bound, or if they are planted outside too early in the season.
For northern growers (above 40 degrees latitude) Fast strains will often begin flowering in July for harvest in September before growing conditions deteriorate.
Green Poison Fast Version is one of the few commercially available strains that has reliably produced beautiful flowers by September 15 here in Southern Canada, and is a personal garden favorite of mine.
Fast strains have a much higher yield potential than autoflower strains, and clones of exceptional plants can be kept and cultivated year after year.
9. Sativa or Indica?
Most cannabis strains are hybrid strains, or a mix of Sativa and Indica genetics. These terms mostly relate to the way you feel following consumption.
Indica (or In Da couch) is a term used for sedative strains. These typically have a gassy or earthy profile like Kush strains due to relatively higher percentages of specific sesquiterpenes.
Sativa strains are associated with a more uplifting, energetic, user experience. Sativa’s typically have a more floral or fruity nose due to the prevalence of monoterpenes like myrcene and limonene. The terms Sativa and Indica no longer have much botanical meaning, but they are still used to describe the aesthetic properties of cannabis flowers.
10. What kind of Hybrid?
Most strains are Hybrids, meaning that they contain a mix of genetics from different parts of the world. This can be a good thing, as hybrid plants typically benefit from hybrid vigor, and will outgrow inbred cannabis strains.
The best seeds for most growers are referred to as F1 hybrids. This means that the seed is the result of the first generation of crossbreeding between two unrelated strains. F1 hybrids will typically exhibit hybrid vigor, while keeping some degree of consistency between plants.
How to Buy Cannabis Seeds Legally
Buyer Beware: Purchasing Cannabis Seeds Online Is Illegal.
March 14, 2019 | Growing |
Don’t let the frigid temperatures discourage you—spring is on its way. That means it’s time to prepare for your outdoor garden. Here’s all you need to know about buying cannabis seeds as you plan for the grow season.
Until Federal Prohibition is Lifted, Buying Cannabis Seeds is Illegal
Let’s set the record straight. As of now, you can’t buy cannabis seeds legally. That’s even true in states that have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use. Until Federal prohibition is lifted, the specter of national anti-cannabis law hovers over every single cannabis transaction. It’s just that some cannabis transactions are more likely to be prosecuted by the Feds than others.
So when a friend of mine told me that her favorite Colorado dispensary purchased its cannabis seeds from Florida, I was perplexed. Large inter-state cannabis exchanges are exactly the kind of transactions that would get the wrong kind of attention. Sure, cannabis is legal for adult personal use in Colorado and for medicinal use in Florida, but it remains illegal at the national level. That means that the export of cannabis seeds from one state to another, regardless of each state’s cannabis laws, can result in federal criminal prosecution.
Actually, that means that any transaction involving cannabis is technically illegal as far as the US Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned. There was a time when the Federal government announced that enforcing cannabis laws in cannabis-legal states would not be a priority. Then former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that statement making it clear that enforcing prohibition was still at the top of the DEA’s agenda. Even though Sessions is gone, it isn’t clear that the new AG won’t feel the same way that Sessions felt about weed.
For Now, It’s Probably Okay to Buy In-State Cannabis Seeds.
Despite this state vs. Federal government kerfuffle, you’re probably safe to buy cannabis seeds from a source located in your town or state if you abide by your state and local government’s regulations. But state laws vary (and some municipalities have even stricter rules than their states do) so don’t make any assumptions. Check out the rules published by your state’s cannabis regulators.
You have a few legal options if you’re obtaining your cannabis seeds locally.
Dispensary. This is the safest option, but it is also the most limited. Dispensaries do sell cannabis seeds, but you’re likely to only have a few options to peruse since they have an array of products other than seeds to get off their shelves.
Friend. If your buddy has been growing cannabis and keeping their seeds, ask them if they’ll donate a batch to you. Keep in mind that it is illegal for them to actually sell the seeds to you unless they have a cannabis retail license. You’ll also want to make sure that your state and municipality allows this kind of exchange.
Cannabis festival. Lots of vendors at these kinds of events sell cannabis seeds for publicity and to make some fast cash. If you want to have fun, check out a huge variety of producers, and possibly bag some free goodies, definitely check out a cannabis festival.
Marijuana farmers market. Find out if the local producers come together to sell their cannabis seeds. Make sure that the event is registered with the local government, though.
Buying Cannabis Seeds From Out of State Can Get You in Trouble.
Say you live in a state that has legalized cannabis, but you want to buy cannabis seeds online through an out of state dealer who produces in a state/country that has also legalized cannabis. Is this lawful? The answer is, definitely not. Yes, that is a very popular way of buying cannabis seeds, and it’s one of the best ways of getting high-quality cannabis seeds from a seed bank. Vendors justify these online sales by claiming that they are selling the seeds for novelty purposes rather than for cultivation. Also, it’s tough for the feds to actually intercept online transactions because that kind of enforcement is expensive, and it is rare that the average consumer is purchasing enough cannabis seeds for it to really be worth it.
Even so, inter-state activity is under fed jurisdiction, so buying cannabis seeds from out of state online is indisputably subject to federal prosecution. It is illegal to transport cannabis from one state to another through mail, so there isn’t even a legal recourse through which to receive an out of state purchase.
Let’s try another scenario. You just flew to Colorado for a weekend getaway and bought cannabis seeds you want to take home with you so that you can start your own grow. You live in Washington state. Is this a legit plan? Sorry, but no. It is illegal to carry cannabis on an airplane . The situation isn’t better if you drove because it is also illegal to carry cannabis across state lines. States and the Feds are on the same page there—state laws prohibit their residents from taking weed over their borders.
Realistically, people break all of these rules for a variety of reasons. They’re frustrating. They’re counterintuitive. Folks just don’t even know they are the rules because of how silly they are. Even so, they are the rules, and it won’t be pretty if you get caught breaking them. The minimum penalty for a first offense includes a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Here’s the tea. If your cannabis purchase requires the seeds (or any cannabis product) to cross state lines, you’re breaking an outdated and ineffective law that, unlike a local purchase, is likely to be prioritized by the feds. If you buy your cannabis seeds from a local licensed vendor, however, you’re at least abiding by your state’s laws, and it is highly unlikely that you will have to deal with the US DEA.
Dianna Benjamin specializes in writing health-related cannabis articles for Wikileaf. She is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom, horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability–yet constant pursuit–to get it right.