The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has acknowledged that cannabis seeds are considered hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill as long as they don’t exceed the 0.3% THC limit, Marijuana Moment reports. The DEA recently carried out a review of federal law and regulations in response to an inquiry from attorney Shane Pennington who shared the response on his “On Drugs” Substack newsletter.
“… Marihuana 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,” Terrence L. Boos. Ph.D., chief drug & chemical section diversion control division, wrote to Pennington in his response, “and thus is not controlled under the CSA. Conversely, marihuana 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 marihuana.”
Pennington told Marijuana Moment that it is his view that “the letter is significant” because of confusion over the source rule – that is whether a cannabis product is a controlled substance based on the sample’s source or, as Pennington explains “the argument that the legal status of a cannabis product hinges on whether it is ‘sourced’ from marijuana or hemp.”
“The lesson here? When it comes to determining whether a particular cannabis-related substance is federally legal ‘hemp’ or schedule I ‘marihuana,’ it is the substance itself that matters – not its source. If the substance exceeds the .3% threshold (and isn’t a mature stalk, fiber, etc.), it’s schedule I marijuana. Otherwise, it’s hemp and not a controlled substance.” – Pennington, “The Source Rule is Dead,’ April 4, 2022
Pennington told Marijuana Moment that the letter makes the DEA’s reliance on the source rule “much harder to defend.”
Since both hemp and THC-rich cannabis seeds generally contain small amounts of THC, the letter effectively gives individuals the right to possess seeds that would produce THC-rich plants as long as the seeds contain less than 0.3% THC; however, it is still federally illegal to grow any cannabis plant that would exceed federal THC limits.
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