A guide to buying cannabis seeds
The first couple months of the year is a great time to start planning your cannabis garden to get a head start on the outdoor growing season, which roughly runs from March to November, depending on where you live.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be challenging when states have different degrees of legality. This guide will answer your questions on buying seeds so you can be on your way to growing your own cannabis.
Is it legal to buy marijuana seeds?
Marijuana seeds are considered a cannabis product just like flower, edibles, and concentrates. Their legality depends on which state you live in. People living in states with adult-use legalization can buy, produce, and sell seeds within their own state, but seeds can’t cross state lines. People living in states with medical marijuana legalization can only buy seeds if they have a medical card.
Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell them for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds they find in packages or on a person.
Where can I buy cannabis seeds?
Many world-renowned seed banks are overseas in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and other countries where cannabis laws are less restricted. Seed banks provide seeds from a variety of different breeders.
In states with adult-use legalization or a medical marijuana program, you can buy seeds within your own state, either at a dispensary or through a specific seed company’s website.
How to buy cannabis seeds online
Before you purchase seeds online, you’ll need to figure out what strain you want to grow and what breeder you want to buy from.
Because US federal law still prohibits cannabis, it can be hard to find information on seed banks and breeders. Breeders who have a long history and positive reputation are usually a good place to start. To get an idea of what well-established breeders look like, check out:
- Sensi Seeds
- DNA Genetics
- Green House Seeds
- Southern Humboldt Seed Collective
- Exotic Genetix
You can also do some research and find an online grow journal that details the whole growing process of a specific strain from a particular breeder. Through these, you’ll be able to look over another grower’s specific notes and see pictures of the final results.
If you grow some seeds and like the results, try growing another strain from that same breeder and see how it goes.
How to buy cannabis seeds at a dispensary
Although this option is only available to people living in states with medical and adult-use legalization, buying marijuana seeds at the dispensary is far more straightforward. However, your options are more limited.
Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.
How to look for quality genetics when buying marijuana seeds
Breeders talk about “unstable genetics,” meaning that a seed’s origin is unknown. Make sure that when you buy a packet of seeds that it or the breeder who produced them can list where the seeds came from and how they were crossed and/or backcrossed to get the seed that you hold in your hand. If you can’t get a seed’s history, it could be anything and the result of poor breeding practices.
An inexperienced breeder might cross a male and a female one time and sell the resulting seeds as a new hybrid strain, but professional breeders usually put their strains through several rounds of backcrossing to stabilize the genetics and ensure consistent plants that reflect those genetics.
Which strain should I grow?
Even one weed plant can produce a lot of buds come harvest time, so make sure you grow a strain you like. Note strains you enjoy when you pick something up at the dispensary or smoke with friends, and look for seeds of it when you want to start growing.
Some strains are easier to grow than others because they are more resistant to mold and pests, so if you’re new to growing, you may want to try an easier strain to start.
Some strains also take longer to grow than others. Depending on whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you may want to grow a quicker marijuana strain if you live in a climate that get cold and wet early in the season. For example, indicas are known for having a shorter flowering time than sativas.
All of this information should be available to you when buying quality seeds.
What’s the difference between regular, feminized, and autoflower seeds?
If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.
Seeds can come feminized, meaning you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.
It also reduces the risk of having a stray male sneak into your crop—just one male can pollinate a huge crop, causing your females to focus their energies on producing seeds instead of buds.
Autoflower plants change from the vegetative to flowering state with age, not the changing of their light cycle. They have a short grow-to-harvest time and can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 ½ to 3 months from when you put the seeds in the ground. The downside is that, typically, they are less potent, but autoflower seeds are great for people who want to grow cannabis but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
How much do marijuana seeds cost?
Cannabis seeds usually come in a pack of 10 or 12 seeds and start at around $40 a pack and go up from there. Some high-end genetics can run between $200 to $500 a pack.
Feminized and autoflower seeds will cost more because more breeding work was put in to creating them and they take less time for the grower to get buds.
How many seeds should I buy? Are they all going to survive?
When you grow any amount of seeds, a percentage of them won’t germinate, even if you get them from a reputable breeder. Always count on a few not germinating or dying off, or roughly 1/4 of the total you put in the ground.
When growing regular seeds, some won’t germinate and some will have to be discarded because they’ll turn out to be males. With feminized seeds, some won’t germinate, but a higher percentage of them will turn into flowering plants because there won’t be any males.
If you want six total cannabis plants to harvest for buds and are growing from regular seeds, start with about 4 times as many, or 24 seeds. Some won’t germinate and some will turn out to be males, and then you’ll want to discard down to the six best phenotypes. If growing feminized seeds, you can probably start with about twice as many seeds in this case (about 12); a couple won’t germinate, and then discard down to the six best phenotypes.
Make sure to always stay within your state’s legal limit of growing plants.
How do I buy strain-specific cannabis seeds?
Strains like Blue Dream, Gelato, and Original Glue have gained in popularity in recent years. Check out these resources on how to buy these types of cannabis seeds:
Pat Goggins contributed to this article.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be tricky from a legal perspective. Get the answer to your top questions about buying cannabis seeds today.
Can You Legally Buy Cannabis Seeds Online?
Looking to buy marijuana seeds online? Here’s what you need to know!
The 2018 midterm elections were yet another big win for weed. Michigan became the tenth state to legalize the herb recreationally , while Utah and Missouri joined a long line of states by allowing medicinal cannabis. As the public becomes more aware of the potential benefits of marijuana, while also realizing that its alleged damaging side effects are overstated, we are seeing a softening in the stance towards the plant.
As well as allowing people to use weed, an increasing number of states are relaxing restrictions on growing it at home . To do so, you’ll need seeds, but this is where it gets complicated for American residents in particular. Even if you live in California, where it is legal to grow weed at home, and purchase seeds from a California-based seed bank, your package can STILL be confiscated.
Indeed, you could get in more trouble for buying seeds from within the U.S. than from an overseas country! This is the reason why most reputable seed banks that you hear about are located in Europe!
Is There Any Reputable American Seed Bank?
Although the United States is actually one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of marijuana legalization, the herb remains federally illegal . As long as this remains the case, users face all manner of complications.
Ultimately, purchasing marijuana seeds online is only possible if you live in one of a select few states.
If you are concerned about legal issues, we recommend purchasing your seeds directly from a dispensary rather than buying them online. However, residents of Colorado should have no difficulties in theory. Stores such as The Farm and The Green Solution regularly advertise their online seed options. It should be a quick and easy process to buy them online if you are a resident of Colorado.
Elsewhere, it can be a matter of pot luck (pun intended). First and foremost, we can only recommend online seed purchases if you live in a state where growing marijuana at home is legal. If your package gets intercepted, it is unlikely that you’ll face legal consequences , although the complicated nature of the laws means we can’t provide a 100% guarantee on that.
What you need is a reputable seed bank that is capable of shipping to numerous states, and understands the need for discretion. Such companies know how to package their goods to evade detection, and if the seeds are confiscated, the firm will either send a new package for free or refund your money.
I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM) is one of the most trustworthy seed sellers we have found in the United States. The website and store are run by Robert Bergman, who is an expert marijuana cultivator. He offers dozens of options and provides FREE shipping to customers in the United States and Europe.
Certain online marijuana seed sellers in the United States try to use subterfuge to ensure their customers receive the seeds.
It is possible to buy seeds from stores but only if they are ‘used’ as luxury bird food or fishing bait additives. Back in February 2015, one month after weed legalization went into effect in Washington D.C., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign organized a ‘seed sharing’ event in the country’s capital. As part of the new law, anyone aged 21+ who attended the event was legally allowed to receive an ounce of seeds. Unfortunately, in the years since, the laws surrounding purchasing marijuana seeds online in the U.S. remain as clear as mud.
European Marijuana Seed Banks
Many of the American seed banks that offer marijuana seeds source them from a seed bank in a European country . When we bemoan the issues that cause federal and state laws to become unclear and confusing, it is important to remember that the U.S. is effectively a continent with 50 different nations; (52 if you count D.C. and Puerto Rico).
Europe is also a continent, and it also has more than 50 countries. The laws surrounding marijuana seeds vary according to each nation but become less confusing because they are separate states. That’s not to say that things don’t become complex!
Did you know that cannabis seeds are also sold as ‘collector’s items’ and ‘additives’?
In principle, cannabis seeds are not illegal in Europe, and it is possible to purchase seeds from another country. In general, when a product enters a European country, it becomes subject to that nation’s laws. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, a 1962 framework for marijuana legalization, is an international treaty that was signed by 180 countries.
In the treaty, marijuana is classed as an illegal substance, but marijuana seeds are not illegal. As international law takes precedence over a country’s own laws, cannabis seeds are technically legal in all 180 countries. Alas, it isn’t as easy as that, and it is much safer to purchase seeds from one European country than another. Here’s a look at marijuana seed laws in a few major European nations:
- Germany: As seeds don’t fall under the German Narcotics Act, they are technically legal to purchase. However, Germany has prohibited the sale of cannabis seeds across the nation, the only EU member state to have done so. As Germany is subject to the EU’s free movement of goods, having seeds sent to Germany is fine.
- United Kingdom: At present, the UK allows for the purchase, sale, or trade of cannabis seeds whether you purchase them domestically or from another European nation. American buyers tend to use UK sellers such as Seedsman, who have been selling seeds globally since 2003. However, we’re not sure what will happen once the UK has left the EU. By the way, UK residents are not allowed to germinate cannabis seeds .
- Netherlands: It is shocking to learn that despite the nation’s relaxed attitude towards marijuana, it is still illegal! However, you should have no issue purchasing cannabis seeds from a Dutch-based seed company. Companies such as Nirvana, MSNL Seeds, and Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds also enjoy good reputations.
- France: Cannabis seeds are legal as long as they are not used for growing. However, you will struggle to find any reputable French cannabis seed dealer.
- Spain: Spain has a similarly lenient policy as the UK. Residents can buy and sell seeds as long as they are for personal use in private areas. Shops need legal authorization to sell seeds.
Types of Marijuana Seeds Available
There are three distinct types of marijuana seeds.
Regular Marijuana Seeds
These seeds come from one female and one male parent. As a result, there is a 50/50 chance that the plant will be the feminized version that carries all of those wonderful cannabinoids . As you have no control of the plant’s gender, there is a chance that you’ll waste weeks waiting for the gender to be revealed.
Feminized Marijuana Seeds
You should purchase feminized seeds instead of their regular counterparts. These seeds have no male chromosomes and are guaranteed to provide resinous bud. In other words, you don’t have to wait for a guarantee which is NOT the case with ‘regular’ seeds.
Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds
This type of seed is your best option if you want to grow your weed indoors. These seeds have genetics which evolved in northern Eurasia which means they are strong and sturdy. They are mixed with Cannabis Ruderalis, a plant known for its ability to grow in harsh weather conditions.
One of the biggest advantages of autoflowering seeds is their ability to produce a minimum of two outdoor crops. When you grow them indoors, however, you can produce four or five crops per annum. Certain strains can become mature in just ten weeks! They are heavily resistant to mold and pests and produce a much higher yield when exposed to a powerful light source.
Final Thoughts on Buying Marijuana Seeds Online
As much as we would love to provide a definitive answer to the title question, we have to admit that it is complicated. You can purchase seeds within most states where growing marijuana is legal, but the issue is clouded by the fact that marijuana is federally illegal . Then there is the small matter of the nuances of state and even local law.
You should be able to purchase from seed banks in the UK and Netherlands, but make sure you do your research and find a reputable company. The last thing you want is to buy what you think are feminized seeds, only to discover that they are regular seeds capable of producing male plants!
Wondering if you can buy marijuana seeds online legally? Here's our complete guide to how and where you can get the best genotypes.