Aside from the type of seed, seeds differ genetically. This means that breeders have grown them into distinct stains that can produce a wide variety of effects. This is where the real value in cannabis seeds lies.
Since the 1960s, plant breeders can have exclusive control over a new variety of a plant they create for twenty years following a submission to the plant variety office. Control over everything from seeds to cuttings is given to that breeder for that period of time if that office decides that their plant is genetically or physically distinct. As a result, plant breeders’ can technically have unique rights to the cannabis seeds they breed.
Why genetics matter.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can patent asexually reproduced plants if they possess certain characteristics due to their genetics or if they’re a hybrid version of a different plant. According to one Reuters report, 39 cannabinoid-related patents were filed in 2018. Cannabinoids are the compounds found in weed that vary from strain-to-strain.
However, even if someone does rightfully own a patent of a certain type of seed, that doesn’t mean that their patent is enforceable nationwide.
Cannabis seeds are, obviously, integral to the weed industry. With so many growers around the world, they’re in higher demand than ever. As a result, a network of online and physical retailers has popped up to satisfy both legal and grey market needs.
Sellers in the legal market ask about $10 a gram, on average, and rarely offer discounts of any kind.
“There is a slight increase in the last quarter for Web-scraped prices,” says Michael Armstrong, a business professor at Brock University. “The thought that came to mind is that if there has been a price increase on the legal side because we still have shortages on that market, maybe some of the black market suppliers have actually bumped their prices up a bit.
“They can still price under the legal market, but take a little bigger margin.”
But the more a customer was willing to buy, the more prices fell: at 28 grams or more, the sites charged $5.86 a gram in the third quarter of this year. In late 2018, they were charging $4.83.
Online grey market cannabis sellers are competing with the legal market by undercutting it and offering deep volume discounts, data released by Statistics Canada shows.