The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recognised cannabis seeds as hemp as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit of 0.3%. This clarification Recreational cannabis use was legalised in Illinois in 2019; the 11th state to lift the ban. It will be legal to use and sell the plant from 2020. Read on. Cannabis Banking Financial Network
Marijuana seeds are legal in the U.S. as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit for hemp
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recognised cannabis seeds as hemp as long as they don’t exceed the THC limit of 0.3%. This clarification makes them legal under the 2018 Farm Bill and it means that seeds can be shipped legally to anywhere in the country, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for the spreading of the genetic diversity of cannabis across the nation’s markets.
Marijuana may currently be banned by the federal government, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has effectively recognised that the plant’s seeds are legal, regardless of how much THC they may end up producing when grown.
This means that cannabis growers can get their seeds from anywhere without having to worry about breaking federal law. Previously, and due to the federal ban, cannabis seeds were restricted to the state where they were produced, so a variety bred and grown in one state couldn’t legally go beyond the limits of that state.
The DEA recently conducted a review of the federal statute in response to a query from attorney Shane Pennington, who inquired about the legality of cannabis seeds and cuttings, and tissue cultures or ‘other genetic material’ containing no more than 0.3% THC.
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was excluded from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which means that currently all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant are not controlled, but only as long as they don’t exceed 0.3% THC.
“As a result, those marijuana seeds with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3% in dry weight meet the definition of ‘hemp’ and are therefore not controlled by the CSA”, states Terrence L. Boos, head of the DEA’s Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, in a letter dated 6th January 2022. This comment was made in response to the issues raised by Shane Pennington, who has an extensive history of litigation against the agency on cannabis matters and drug policy.
Both hemp and marijuana seeds generally contain low THC levels, which don’t exceed the legal threshold, and so the DEA essentially permits the purchase of cannabis seeds, no matter how much THC the resulting plant may produce, provided the seeds themselves contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.
Nevertheless, it’s important to say that the use of any cannabis seeds with the intention of growing marijuana remains illegal at federal level, since the plant is still banned.
Was it illegal to sell marijuana seeds before?
Until now, cannabis strains have been isolated in the regions where they have been created or where they’ve arrived from other countries, as they couldn’t be transported beyond state borders. For example, although recreational marijuana is legal state-wide in both California and Oregon, moving a plant from one of those states to another is illegal at federal level. This forces cannabis growers and breeders to operate within the limits of the state.
Many cannabis breeders and seed banks sell seeds throughout the U.S. but operate in a legal ‘grey area’. Generally, the labels show that the seeds are sold as a collector’s item or a souvenir, which provides a way to circumvent the law. But if authorities find cannabis seeds in the mail, they may seize them and arrest the sender or recipient, although this is not common. However, all of that could have changed in 2018 without anyone actually knowing about it.
Definition of ‘source’ as opposed to ‘material’
In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed a Farm Bill for the legalisation of hemp in the country. ‘Hemp’ was defined as any cannabis plant with a THC level below 0.3%. With this bill, hemp can be grown and used for industrial purposes. The 2018 bill also permits hemp production for the creation of cannabinoids other than THC, such as CBD or delta-8 THC.
Cannabis seeds have always been considered illegal because they come from plants with high THC levels. As the source of the seeds has THC levels over 0.3%, anything that comes from those plants (including the seeds) has also been considered illegal cannabis.
But in November 2021, Shane Pennington, attorney at the law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP in New York, wrote to DEA officials asking for clarification on the definition of growing cannabis seeds, clones, and tissue cultures. Mr. Pennington argued that it’s not the source of the material but the material itself that determines its legality, which means that a cannabis seed with less than 0.3% THC should be classified as hemp. And if the seeds are hemp, then they’re not a controlled substance, and are therefore legal at federal level.
What implications does this have for the cannabis industry?
If the DEA and the federal government permit seeds to move freely across the country, anyone would then be able to grow seeds from anywhere in their own state and certain strains would no longer be confined to a specific region. This could potentially trigger interest in investment, the development of a larger industry, and greater acceptance of the plant, as well as the expansion of the area of genetic innovation. The removal of transportation barriers between states would open up the genetic pool of cannabis, which would in turn provide breeders with a greater diversity of strains to work with.
According to Pennington, the federal law seems to be more flexible than expected, and so perhaps the biggest implication is that this sends a clear signal to state regulators. In fact, DEA officials last year clarified to the regulatory authorities that delta-8 THC, an increasingly popular psychoactive cannabinoid, was also not a controlled substance under existing law, because the 2018 Farm Bill that legalised hemp doesn’t explicitly prohibit THC isomers.
The states follow the DEA’s lead by creating their own drug laws, so watching the government agency relax its stance on cannabis seeds could get these states to do the same, thereby breaking protectionist state laws.
However, it’s important to highlight that, even though the DEA calls it ‘an official determination’, it is still not entirely clear whether they are legally bound to this position. For now, the DEA’s recognition that seeds, cuttings, and cannabis tissue cultures are not controlled substances is not a law, but it does signify a big step forward in easing the restrictions on marijuana.
Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.
Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.
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Cannabis in Illinois – Laws, Use, and History
In 2019, Illinois became the eleventh US state to legalise recreational cannabis use. As of 2020, individuals can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flowers, which can be purchased from licenced vendors and dispensaries. Cannabis cultivation is still illegal though, unless it’s for medicinal purposes, and the grower has a Medical Marijuana card.
- Recreational cannabis
- Medicinal cannabis
- Legal since 2013
Cannabis laws in Illinois
The US is governed by federal and state laws. This article covers the cannabis laws in the state of Illinois. For US federal laws, please visit this page.
Can you possess and use cannabis in Illinois?
In June 2019, Illinois’ Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill to legalise recreational cannabis in the state. This makes Illinois the eleventh state in the US to do so. They are also the US’s first state to legalise recreational cannabis through its legislature.
The legalization came into effect on January 1 st , 2020, and all adults aged 21 and older may purchase recreational cannabis from licensed retailers in Illinois. The bill states:
- A medical cannabis card won’t be required to purchase it.
- Using cannabis is permitted in the individual’s home, or on-site in approved cannabis-related premises.
- Use is forbidden in any public place, in a motor vehicle, or on the grounds of an educational establishment. Students with medical marijuana cards may continue to use the drug at school, as per their physician’s guidelines.
- Cannabis use is also forbidden near anyone under the age of 21.
- It’s also forbidden near a police officer, firefighter, corrections officer, or on-duty school bus driver.
Purchase and possession limits for recreational cannabis are slightly different for Illinois residents and non-residents:
- For instate residents, 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrates, or 500 mg of cannabis-infused edibles, can be purchased.
- Non-residents can purchase 15 grams of cannabis flower, 2.5 grams of concentrate, or 250 mg of cannabis-infused products.
Illinois’ government has proposed tax rates on cannabis purchases. For cannabis flowers or other products containing under 35% of THC, there will be a 10% sales tax. Products infused with cannabis (such as tinctures or edibles) will have a 20% tax. Any other cannabis product with THC levels of over 35% will come with a 25% tax. Individual counties and cities in Illinois may also add extra local sales taxes.
The legislation proposes that the tax revenue will be used to regenerate poorer communities. When speaking about the changes to the law, Gov. Pritzker commented: “Legalising adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Existing criminal records for cannabis possession
In addition to legalising recreational cannabis, the new law may also expunge cannabis-possession criminal records for 800,000 people in the state.
Anyone with an existing conviction for possessing under 30 grams of cannabis will have their records sent to a Prisoner Review Board. Once reviewed, they’ll be passed on to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for a pardon. Providing the offences aren’t connected with a violent crime, the record will be expunged.
Can you sell cannabis in Illinois?
Previously, only patients holding a valid Medical Cannabis card could purchase medicinal cannabis in Illinois. On June 25, 2019, Illinois made history by becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis. Since the 1 st of January, 2020, adults aged 21 and older may purchase recreational cannabis from licensed retailers in Illinois.
Indeed, the early signs are promising. In September 2020, recreational cannabis sales hit a record high, with close to $64 million worth of the drug being sold in the previous month alone. In 2020, total sales reached $1.03 billion, including $669 million in recreational cannabis and more than $366 million in medicinal purchases.
In May 2021, according to the state of Illinois, throughout the 110 licensed dispensaries, over 2.5 million cannabis products were sold. State residents accounted for approximately $80 million, and sales increased from out of state residents who spent close to $37 million on cannabis related products.
MJBizDaily estimates that as many as 295 stores could be up and running by 2022, which would be 2.3 stores per 100,000 residents.
Kris Krane, one of the founders and president of 4Front Holdings, commented: “It’s a state of 13 million people with a very large tourist population in the Chicago area, so I think the business opportunities are huge.”
Can you grow cannabis in Illinois?
Unlike other US states that have legalised recreational cannabis, Illinois will not be legalising personal cannabis cultivation. It will remain illegal to grow cannabis plants at home (even in limited numbers), unless the grower is a medicinal cannabis patient. If the individual has a Medical Marijuana card, they can grow up to five plants at a time.
If caught cultivating up to five cannabis plants at home (without a medical ID card), the offender will be given a civil penalty of $200. Growing five to 20 plants is regarded as a felony, and is punishable with a one to six-year prison sentence, plus a fine of $25,000. 20 to 50 plants can result in a prison term of two to 10 years, and the same fine, and if caught growing 50 to 200 plants, the prison sentence is raised to three to 14 years, and a $100,000 fine. Over 200 plants will result in a four to 30-year prison term, plus a $100,000 fine.
From the start of 2020, licences will be gradually issued to companies in the state. These will be ‘craft growers’, who can apply for licences to cultivate as much as 5,000 square feet of cannabis crops.
Is CBD legal in Illinois?
The law is slightly ambiguous when it comes to CBD products. In Illinois, CBD is technically legal, as the state’s Cannabis Control Act (which set up a hemp research pilot programme) permitted the cultivation of industrial hemp. The federal Farm Bill also made hemp cultivation legal across the country.
As such, CBD products are widely sold in Illinois, and can be legally purchased and used, but there are certain ‘grey areas’, particularly regarding CBD-infused edibles.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to Illinois?
Cannabis seeds can be legally purchased and sold in the state. However, they must be ungerminated, as cultivation is still illegal. Sending cannabis seeds through the post can also be legally problematic (especially if the package passes through other states where the seeds are banned). Anecdotal reports claim that some seed parcels have been held at customs.
Medicinal cannabis in Illinois
Surprisingly, Illinois could have been one of the US’s first states to legalise medicinal cannabis use. In 1978, it passed the Cannabis Control Act, but in order for the law to fully come into force, the Human Services department and the State Police needed to take action. Neither did so, which meant that medicinal cannabis didn’t become legal until many years later.
In 2013, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was passed. This legalised medicinal cannabis use, but only in extremely tightly controlled circumstances. The programme was signed into law in the same year, making Illinois the 20 th state to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Illinois has a long list of health conditions that have been approved for medicinal cannabis treatment. These include:
In order to qualify for medicinal cannabis treatment in Illinois, the patient must be over 18 (or if a minor, must have an adult caregiver and certification from two physicians). They must also be a resident of the state and must have been formally diagnosed with one of the listed conditions.
Industrial hemp in Illinois
After the Farm Bill was passed at federal level (legalising hemp cultivation), the US states swiftly began to pass state laws, permitting farmers to grow hemp in their region.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, together with Illinois Department of Agriculture, opened up licencing in April 2019. In the first two days, 350 applications had been received, from farmers and processors wanting to start planting the crop.
“Industrial hemp is a potentially billion-dollar industry that Illinois will now take part in,” Pritzker commented. “This will have a massive impact on our state’s economy.”
Good to know
If you are travelling to Illinois (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:
- Illinois’ medicinal cannabis programme has proven to be lucrative for the state. In 2018, dispensary sales generated $133 million, and patient enrolment rose by 66%.
- In Chicago, 74% of citizens supported the legalisation of recreational cannabis.
- In September 2019, Chicago hosts its first industrial cannabis expo.
In 1931, Illinois was one of the earlier US states to ban recreational cannabis use; six years before the national prohibition law was passed. This anti-cannabis stance was maintained for several decades, though the rise of hippy culture in the 1960s challenged the status quo.
The situation started to change in 1978, when the state passed the Cannabis Control Act. This sought to legalise medical cannabis use, providing the State Police and Department of Human Services created the necessary drug policies to manage the new law. Neither department did so, and as such, the Cannabis Control Act never came into action.
In 2013, Illinois became the 20 th state in the country to legalise medicinal cannabis use. Then, in 2019, it became the eleventh state to legalise recreational use too.
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Attitudes towards cannabis
Attitudes towards cannabis in Illinois are relatively positive. In a recent study, 74.4% of people expressed support for legalising recreational cannabis, with only 21% opposing it. In the 35 and under age group, 83% supported it. Although the age group with the least support was 66 years and over, they still demonstrated majority support – 51%.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
1 thought on “Cannabis in Illinois – Laws, Use, and History”
I was a typical pothead till 2020. Since then, I’m a typical grower, I have my medical card. It’s not a weed, its a flower, technically….
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Author and reviewer
The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
Maurice Veldman is a member of the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers and one of the Netherlands’ most notable cannabis lawyers. With 25 years’ experience in the field, his knowledge of criminal and administrative law supports cannabis sellers and hemp producers by addressing the inequalities between the individual and the state.
Is It Illegal To Sell Cannabis Seeds
If cannabis flower is federally illegal because it contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are cannabis seeds legal because they don’t? It’s a fair question that many people have asked and, while the answer is “no” federally and “it depends” by state, there is an active legal cannabis seed trade occurring every day in the U.S. – and it is rapidly growing. While the legal questions evolve and new legislation surfaces in state capitols and Washington D.C., there is cash tied to the sale of cannabis seeds in need of banking.
Is it legal to sell cannabis seeds?
Cannabis seeds are illegal to sell across state lines due to the ongoing federal prohibition against cannabis and cannabis products. However, depending on state law, consumers may be able to purchase cannabis seeds legally from a breeder, dispensary, or other cannabis business – even if they don’t have a license to sell cannabis products that contain THC.
Cannabis seeds find themselves in a legal grey area because they don’t contain any THC – when a cannabis product contains 0.3% THC content or less, it is considered legal since the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. However, they remain federally illegal to buy and sell. In states where cannabis is legal, cannabis seeds could sometimes be bought and sold within state borders by licensed businesses only, depending on state law. State laws governing the sale of cannabis seeds can vary from state to state.
Can retailers who sell cannabis seeds get a bank account?
For THC licensees who also sell cannabis seeds, banking is available as it would be for other activities that fall under the scope of that license. In other words, a dispensary would have little trouble adding cannabis seeds to their inventory if they already worked with a cannabis-friendly bank.
However, unlike THC licensees, there is not a clear federal regulatory framework on how to bank money derived from state-compliant cannabis seeds sales from non-THC licensed operators. As a result, this sector of the legal cannabis industry comes with a great deal of uncertainty and risk, every banker’s least favorite combination.
So, for example, a garden shop stocks all types of seeds, including cannabis seeds, which become a substantial portion of the shop’s business. Unlike a licensed dispensary, this garden shop does not deal in other cannabis products, and yet cannabis seeds remain a significant percentage of overall revenue. The regulations that bank examiners use for THC licensees doesn’t necessarily apply to the garden shop and so many bankers remain uncertain how to approach this type of situation (and therefore tend to avoid it).
In this way, cannabis seeds are more like CBD products or Delta-8-THC: largely unregulated from a banking perspective.
The difference between CBD banking and cannabis seeds banking, though, is that while the U.S. cannabis seeds market is expected to eclipse $1.5 billion in total value by 2027, the American CBD industry already drives more than that in sales each year. More niche sectors of the industry like the cannabis seed trade and Delta-8 THC distillates face an even steeper uphill battle in securing compliant banking and merchant processing services than CBD businesses.
That’s not to say banking isn’t available for these sectors. However, bankers generally tend to be less informed about cannabis seeds than THC licensees or even CBD businesses. At any time, a bank could take a closer look at sectors like cannabis seeds or Delta-8-THC and decide the uncertainty is too great and the business opportunity too small (relative to broader markets like CBD) to take the risk – at any time, a bank could choose to terminate these accounts and suspend merchant processing services.
Cannabis seeds businesses might be legal in your state but remain federally illegal – and without a THC license, it’s not exactly clear to bankers how to compliantly manage your account. However, unlike THC licensees, federal bank examiners have produced no real guidance on how to bank profits earned through the purchase and sale of cannabis seeds. While THC licensees handle a federally illegal product, bankers have guidance, and therefore more certainty, on how to bank them in a compliant manner. There is no such assurance when it comes to cannabis seeds businesses.
This has led many cannabis seeds businesses to mischaracterize their operations to their bank, posing as an agricultural company under some obscure name and withholding information about cannabis-related operations. Not only does this carry significant business consequences, it appears that law enforcement is cracking down on fraud in cannabis banking and payment processing. This approach is not only obsolete but puts your business at a competitive disadvantage. Yesterday was the best time to transition to transparent, compliant cannabis banking, but right now is the second-best time.
How to find a stable banking relationship for cannabis seeds businesses
Cannabis entrepreneurs know few things are certain and those that are won’t be for long. The same is true for cannabis banking, but you can take certain steps to improve your chances of finding, retaining, and maintaining a stable relationship with your bank.
The first and most important step is to identify a cannabis-friendly bank and approach them in full transparency. That can be easier said than done. Many cannabis-friendly banks don’t openly advertise the fact that they work closely with the industry. Even if they embrace the industry and the business opportunities that come along with it, many remain cautious about the optics of being associated with a federally illegal product.
That’s where banking networks like Fincann come in. We’ve been doing the hard work in the trenches for years, forging relationships with financial institutions that are ready and willing to work with the legal cannabis industry, including cannabis seeds businesses. As of April 2021, Fincann’s Cannabis Banking Financial Network™ offers compliant cannabis banking and merchant processing services for every sector of the industry in all 50 states.
What banking services are available to cannabis seeds businesses?
Once you and your new bank have been introduced, including a full review of business operations and financials, you’ll know you have a banking partner that understands and supports your business. And, if you’re in need of merchant processing services, there are several legitimate, compliant options available to all sectors of the cannabis industry: merchant processing accounts, “PayPal-style” e-wallets, closed-loop and loyalty cards, high-profit ATMs, and ACH-based apps and transfers.
Merchant processing accounts support in-person debit transactions, allowing customers to make cannabis purchases using their checking account and PIN number. ACH transfers support an online payment functionality for e-commerce stores. Customers simply input their routing and account number and confirm their payment to checkout online. Both methods are 100% legally compliant and transparent with the facilitating bank.
Cannabis banking made better with Fincann
There is no longer any need for a business in any state or sector of the legal cannabis industry to lie to their bank or use illegal payment processing workarounds. With banking networks like Fincann and payment processing solutions like merchant processing accounts and online ACH transfers, cannabis businesses have effective, legal, and straightforward options. The future of the cannabis industry is legal and transparent; don’t fall behind, call Fincann and transition to better cannabis banking today.