If the legal landscape of cannabis wasn’t confusing enough, cannabis seeds operate in a separate space. Generally considered legal, it’s often the act of germination that attracts the attention of law enforcement. We break down major European countries and their stance on cannabis seed legality.
Cannabis seed legality is an obscure topic. With each country taking its own approach to cannabis legality, many buyers assume the seeds will be treated in the same vein. It is, however, the process of germination that attracts the eyes of the law when it comes to purchasing cannabis seeds. Therefore, in theory, it is perfectly legal to buy cannabis seeds as long as it cannot be proven that you intend to grow cannabis from them, either privately or commercially.
THE BASIC PREMISE OF SEED LEGALITY
The legislation is rapidly changing, and with it is the cannabis landscape. However, as we have already alluded to, cannabis seeds in principle are not illegal across Europe. It is actually possible to buy seeds from other countries and have them shipped to your home address. As a direct result, many European countries have seen a distinct increase in the opening of seed shops. Since it is down to law enforcement to prove the purchase of seeds is with the intent to cultivate cannabis, many store owners operate on a thin line between legal and illegal activity.
Cannabis seeds are rich in proteins and amino acids, making them a great healthy snack. They are also commonly used in fishing bait, additives, luxury bird food, or as souvenirs or collector’s items.
EVERY COUNTRY IS DIFFERENT
While this broad approach applies to Europe, when a product enters a specific country, it is then subject to that country’s laws. Therefore, it is possible to buy seeds prohibited in your own country, but legal in another.
To make matters even more confusing, in 1962, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs formed the framework for legislation worldwide. 180 member states signed the international treaty, which deems cannabis an illegal substance. Cannabis seeds, however, are not. In seed form, they do not possess any narcotic components. International law does take precedence over national law, meaning cannabis seeds are technically legal in all of the member states.
The act of buying, selling, or trading cannabis seeds is legal in the UK, whether you are receiving them domestically or from other European countries. The biggest legal issue surrounds the germination of cannabis seeds. This is illegal, and anyone found doing so will be subject to prosecution. It is important that the seeds are purchased from reputable vendors and that no discussion is had about germination. This could be construed as buying “with intent”, which would make the activity illegal.
Germany presents a complicated stance on cannabis seeds. Seeds do not fall under the German Narcotics Act, which therefore makes them legal to buy. However, Germany has prohibited the sale of cannabis seeds countrywide, being the only European nation to have done so.
Where does that leave consumers interested in cannabis seeds? Germany is still subject to the principle of free movement of goods in the EU, so having cannabis seeds shipped to Germany is permitted. You will not be subject to criminal repercussions if you order cannabis seeds online. Cannabis is legal by exception for users who have been granted a prescription by a medical professional.
Taking a similar approach to the UK, Spain has a slightly more lenient stance regarding cannabis and its seeds. It is legal to buy and sell cannabis seeds as long as it is for personal use in private areas. As such, it’s possible to germinate cannabis seeds for personal use without falling foul of the law, unless it can be proved that you intend to traffic.
Spain is unique in that it operates as a series of decentralised regions, each one capable of making their own regulations in regards to cannabis. Generally, the same approach can be applied to Spain as a whole. While seed shops will need legal authorisation to sell cannabis seeds, their private use remains legal.
Cannabis seeds are viewed as cultivation equipment, which makes acquiring them easy thanks to numerous grow shops. Other than that, any cannabis-related activity is still prohibited, making germination an illegal act. Even though there are reports of users being let off when caught with a small amount for personal use, cannabis is still illegal.
Considered by many to be the motherland of cannabis in Europe, it’s no surprise that cannabis seeds and CBD are legal to purchase. However, what may come as a surprise is that cannabis is still illegal in the Netherlands. It is merely allowed under a “tolerance policy”. Growing cannabis is also a criminal act, although law enforcement tolerates a small number of plants grown for personal use.
France is unique in that cannabis, along with any other drug, may not be presented in a favourable light. No other European country has this type of legislation, and let us hope it stays that way. Surprisingly, cannabis seeds are legal as long as they are not used for growing. Consumption of weed, buying, or selling are also illegal and carry prison sentences and fines. If you live in France, you will have to order cannabis seeds from another European country.
OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
The above are but a small sample of European countries. We would always recommend reviewing your own nation’s stance on the legality of cannabis seeds and cannabis to ensure you do not attract the attention of law enforcement. As the buyer or owner of said seeds, you are liable for any fines or penalties that may accompany such attention. Generally speaking, the purchase of cannabis seeds as a collector’s item or for purposes other than growing is seen as legal.
USA AND SOUTH AMERICA
If you live in the USA, you are at the mercy of your own state’s specific legislation. Technically speaking, cannabis seeds are prohibited under federal law in every state. What complicates matters is that several states have now authorised marijuana for recreational use as well as medicinal use. If you do live in a state with legalized weed, rules surrounding the purchasing of seeds vary. As always, check the technicalities at a local level.
South American countries are a melting pot of legislation. Some, like Brazil, are halfway between legalization and total prohibition, while countries like Uruguay have legalized cannabis in a bid to halt illegal trafficking of the substance. As many Latin American nations are part of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, cannabis seeds in principle are legal. However, given the volatility of the situation surrounding cannabis legalization is this part of the world, reviewing your own country’s restrictions is a must.
This article is for informational purposes only. The contents of this post should not be interpreted as legal advice.
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