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Cannabis Seeds and the 2018 Farm Bill


Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ascertained that while cannabis seeds will eventually grow into cannabis plants, they do not fall under the Controlled Substance list due to the federal legalization of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance (grouped with heroin and ecstasy) with no currently accepted medical use under the Controlled Substances Act. Before this update, cannabis seeds were considered a controlled substance.

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the DEA’s schedule of Controlled Substances. Hemp and cannabis come from the same plant, the only difference being the percentage of THC. Cannabis seeds, tissue cultures, and other genetic materials from the cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC are integrated into the 2018 Farm Bill, meaning they are not illegal to possess or distribute if the DEA is scrutinizing.

Since seeds do not contain over the allowed 0.3% THC, one can assume seeds may be shipped or mailed anywhere in the United States. Many states with recreational or medical programs, such as California, include language in their laws that precisely articulate that seeds cannot be transferred in or out of the state, regardless of what federal law states. Other new markets aren’t as strict and have seemingly turned a blind eye to the immaculate conception of cannabis when licenses are first issued.

In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service released guidance specifying under what circumstances hemp can be mailed: “Hemp and hemp-based products, including cannabidiol (CBD) with the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of such hemp (or its derivatives) not exceeding a 0.3 percent limit are permitted to be mailed only when:

1. The mailer complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws (such as the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018) about hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales.

2. The mailer retains records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test results, licenses, or compliance reports, for no less than two years after the date of mailing.”

In the NCS Platform, we track incoming inventory, including seeds (when the data is available). Identifying the source of seeds is critical to monitoring or operating a cannabis business. As with any agricultural product, quality, verified seeds from a trusted source could be the difference in a good, bad or non-existent crop.

About the Author Paige Reimers

At NCS, Paige oversees the product team, business operations, as well as client and staff onboarding. She started her career in compliance and operations at both retail and commercial financial institutions. There, Paige learned the importance of risk management and KYC (know-your-customer) and saw firsthand the time and effort it takes to complete ODD (ongoing due diligence) and maintain a healthy high-risk banking program. At NCS, she works hand in hand with the product team to develop and enhance technology solutions to support bankers and regulators in markets across the country.

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