You shouldn’t have any trouble buying cannabis seeds in another state or country if it’s legal there. It’s bringing the seeds back to your home state that can get you into trouble.
If your business will include cannabis growing or cultivation, then you are probably wondering how to get your hands on weed seeds. legally. Before taking that step, though, make sure your business has the necessary license to operate legally in your state.
State law governs if and how you can operate your cannabis growing business, and each state takes a slightly different approach. Your state may offer a large number of permits with few prerequisites, a small number of permits with an extensive application process, or something in between.
Can I Buy Cannabis Seeds in Other States or Countries?
The same is true for buying cannabis seeds in another country. It may sound like a great idea to buy cannabis seeds while visiting one of the world-renowned marijuana seed banks that exist in places such as the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. But when you re-enter the U.S. with your goods, Customs and Border Protection will seize any seeds they find, even if your plane landed in a state where they are legal. Again, it goes back to marijuana being illegal under federal law.
It is also an option to buy cannabis seeds online from an online seed bank and then have the seeds shipped to you, so long as you are abiding by state law. The risk here is that your package could still be confiscated. While it is unlikely that you would face criminal charges, there is no guarantee because of the way federal law treats marijuana products.
Thinking about starting your own cannabusiness? You are not alone. From CBD to medical marijuana to edibles, legal cannabis has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with few signs of slowing down any time soon.
If you live in a state that permits the sale of marijuana seeds, your best bet is to shop locally for high-quality seeds. This means visiting a dispensary, local farmers market, or seed company in your state to make your purchase. There, you can get the in-person help you need to make your purchase legally.
As the market for hemp derived CBD has exploded, there is increasing interest in international trade in these products and the materials used to make them, including in the United States. For example, a US-based manufacturer of hemp-derived CBD edibles might import the active ingredient for manufacturing and then export the finished product overseas. US-based companies could also be interested in importing or exporting raw materials such as industrial hemp, hemp seeds, or other hemp-derived products.
How should you ensure compliance?
Exports from the United States to embargoed territories (Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria) are prohibited without licenses from BIS and/or the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) in the US Treasury Department. (While OFAC is the primary sanctions enforcement agency, BIS and OFAC have overlapping jurisdiction in some cases, so it is always important to consider both agencies’ licensing requirements.) There are narrow licensing programs for products that qualify as agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices, with eligibility requirements and licensing policies that vary depending on the sanctions program. We recommend working with knowledgeable trade compliance counsel to determine whether the products might be eligible for these licenses. If so, companies should develop procedures to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the relevant licenses. Companies should always watch out for red flags that a customer might divert products to a sanctioned territory without the required licenses.
Even where a product appears to be EAR99 based on a self-classification, there still may be benefit to obtaining a formal CCATS from BIS. First, this could avoid questions from US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), which enforces US export control laws at the border and which might question whether the products are described in an ECCN on the CCL. Second, it could be helpful to have a CCATS on hand to provide to other parties involved in the transaction that may want assurances that the export is in compliance with US export control laws, such as banks, intermediaries, and customers.
US trade laws are subject to robust enforcement, frequently resulting in significant fines, reputational damage, and settlement agreements that impose compliance program obligations on companies. It is safe to assume that imports and exports of these products could receive greater scrutiny by the US regulators, at least for the time being while the industry matures. In order to mitigate the risk of violations, companies interested in importing or exporting legal hemp and CBD products should develop and maintain compliance programs designed to ensure compliance with US export controls, sanctions, and customs laws and regulations. This includes procedures for product classification, licensing determinations, and restricted party screening processes.