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What the Farm Bill Means for Growing Cannabis at Home

And how buying seeds is about to become a whole lot easier.

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Homegrown Cannabis Co.

Are you a proud cannabis consumer or cultivator? If so, have you been finding it difficult to purchase weed seeds in your area? Are you reliant on seeds being shipped to you discreetly?

When growing your own cannabis, obtaining good quality seeds often involves some element of risk, but the new Farm Bill could change things.

We’ll explore what the DEA has said, what the Farm Bill contains, and what it could mean for you.

But, before we do, we need to give you some background.

The Power of Seeds

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Homegrown Cannabis Co.

Many Americans love growing and smoking weed, yet cannabis remains a controversial topic in the US. There are many gray areas regarding state laws and federal regulations.

Several states allow the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana but not recreational. Others have a no marijuana policy or permit all types to be used and sold.  

Some regulations govern the possession and public consumption of cannabis, which can all be quite confusing if you’re a visitor to another state. The following are a few of the many states who have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes:

  • Maine
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Nevada

Here are a few states who have legalized cannabis for medical use:

  • West Virginia
  • Missouri
  • Utah
  • Iowa
  • North Dakota
  • Alabama
  • Florida

Cannabis is easy to cultivate and many weed lovers to grow it. However, thanks to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, marijuana was classed as a schedule 1 drug, which negatively impacted the purchase of seeds.

Weed is a controversial topic because—although it’s illegal under Federal Law—many states have legalized or decriminalized it in one way or another. In some regions, users are free to grow cannabis. 

Many growers are concerned with obtaining weed seeds, especially if they’re not available in their state. The reason is that transporting any form of marijuana, including seeds, is prohibited across state lines.

Most growers buy from online seed banks. They’re mailed to the client discreetly, and this exercise has proved to be quite successful to date.

Hemp vs. Cannabis

Hemp and cannabis are from the same plant species. They resemble each other but have some dissimilarities.

One of the main differences between hemp and marijuana is the THC level. While hemp has 0.3% or less, weed from high-level THC seeds has much more and can exceed 15%. 

THC is the compound in cannabis responsible for the psychoactive effect or what many refer to as the “high.”

Hemp, however, has other benefits. Here are a few of its many uses:

  • Manufacture of clothing - compared to cotton, hemp uses less water and no pesticides. More fiber can be derived from an acre of hemp than cotton.
  • Paper - using hemp in the manufacturing of paper can help lower deforestation. Hemp grows faster than trees, which positively impacts the return on investments.
  • Hemp bioplastic - the production of this product requires less energy. It reduces health risks as it is fully biodegradable compared to traditional plastic.

Farm Bill to the Rescue

The 2014 Farm Bill allowed for the cultivation and research of hemp in certain states. It did not stipulate details regarding how it should be processed or used in manufacturing products. It also remained a Schedule 1 substance.

This Agriculture Improvement Act is revised every five years. In 2018 it had an interesting twist. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought cannabis and its importance to the fore. 

The Senate subsequently amended the bill and removed hemp and its seeds from the Schedule of Controlled Substances list. Hemp was also removed from the definition of marijuana and described as a cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% THC.

Senate leader McConnell was applauded for being the driving force behind hemp being included in this legislation.

Hemp became a mainstream crop, and its farmers are now treated in the same manner as other agriculturalists. However, only the compounds derived from hemp were legalized, and any other cannabinoids from other plants remained illegal.

Still, each state has its own schedule for controlled substances, which doesn't always comply with federal law. Businesses that trade with hemp or use it in manufacturing must abide by their state’s regulations.

A Time for Change

In late 2021 a New York attorney challenged the definition of cannabis seeds with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It always regarded this form of weed as illegal, as the THC level of the plant from which growers obtain the seeds is more than 0.3%.

The counsel, Shane Pennington, explained that the plant is only the source of the seeds, and the seeds themselves contain only trace amounts (<0.3%) of THC. Pennington also asked whether this oversight should be corrected by reclassifying cannabis seeds as hemp?

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The DEA has subsequently reviewed the legal status of weed seeds and agreed with Pennington’s claim. This decision means that the possession of cannabis seeds is permitted even if the plant raised from the seed has a high THC level. 

It’s now possible that cannabis seeds can be sold without any constraints and shipped across state lines. 

This change marks a significant turning point for the cannabis market. Whether authorities will alter the law accordingly is not clear at the moment. It does give all herb lovers some hope that this is another step in the right direction.

Breeders are more likely to access a wider range of strains to experiment with. Growers could also potentially buy seeds from a wider variety of retailers, including those out of state. 

There's a chance that this development will create a greater opportunity for research, giving scientists better access to the latest genetics. 

Note: growing marijuana that exceeds the 0.3% THC limit is still a federal crime.

Exhaling the Past and Inhaling the Future

Many opportunities were lost due to cannabis seeds being misunderstood and incorrectly labeled. With its newfound status, it’s time to exhale the past and inhale the future. 

Once a final consensus has been reached and the regulations adjusted, things will look promising.

Numerous possibilities await marijuana lovers and the wider cannabis market. Thanks to Shane Pennington, who took the initiative, and the DEA for acknowledging this change. It’s now just a waiting game for the laws to be officially changed.

Marijuana has a chance to reach a wider market and bring joy and contentment to many more through the availability of the seeds. Growers, rejoice! 

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