By Luke Sumpter

So, you're thinking of buying some cannabis seeds. But would doing so break the law in your country? Well, it depends. It just so happens that seeds themselves are completely legal in many countries across Europe and beyond. After all, in this form, they do not contain THC or other psychoactive substances. This means you can more than likely rock up to a seed bank in person, or order seeds online, without becoming a criminal.

However, any attempt to germinate and grow them could land you in some serious trouble, depending on where you live. Without the intention of cultivation, many governments simply view cannabis seeds as a legal novelty product. But, as most of us are aware, only a very small amount of people purchase seeds as collector’s items; most of us have much higher ambitions.

Cannabis Seed Legality: Every Country Is Different

As of 2023, per country.

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.

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.

However, once germinated, cannabis seeds become illegal in many countries. Exposing seeds to water and activating them displays the intent to produce, and possibly supply, an illegal substance. Although, at this stage, they don’t contain the key active psychoactive constituent (THC), many governments across the world view the cannabis plant itself as an illegal narcotic substance.

But simply germinating cannabis seeds won’t land you in trouble in certain parts of Europe. For example, while not legal in the nation, Switzerland decriminalised the cultivation of up to four plants for personal use back in 2013. Likewise, Portugal has decriminalised the cultivation of up to five plants for personal use, as has the government of Czechia. As of April 2021, adult citizens of Malta have also been able to grow up to four plants without worrying about criminal charges.

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.

The charges for germinating cannabis seeds and growing weed in the UK vary based on the perceived scale of the operation. Law enforcement currently views the cultivation of seven plants[1] as the limit for personal use. Any citizen caught raising this many plants could get away with a caution. However, larger growing operations, especially those that indicate the intent to supply others, can land growers behind bars for up to fourteen years, along with a hefty fine.

Cannabis Seeds

Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis Seeds in Germany?

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.

Are Marijuana Seeds Legal in Spain?

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 stores will need legal authorization to sell cannabis seeds, their private use remains legal.

Cannabis in Spain

Can You Get in Trouble Ordering Seeds in Italy?

Cannabis seeds are viewed as cultivation equipment, which makes acquiring them easy thanks to numerous grow stores. 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.

Buying Cannabis Seeds in the Netherlands

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.

The Netherlands and Cannabis

France is unique in that cannabis, along with any other drug, may not be presented in a favorable 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.

Cannabis Seed Legality in 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.

Seed Legality

Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis Seeds in the USA and South America?

State laws vary wildly in the USA. For example, California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, and adults can freely grow up to six plants for personal use. Likewise, anyone over the age of 21 can grow up to six plants for personal use in Colorado. In contrast, growing any amount of weed in Idaho, Kansas, North Carolina, and a handful of other states can result in criminal charges. If you live in a legal state, then we have news for you! Royal Queen Seeds has set up store in the USA, meaning you now have access to our catalog of legendary genetics!

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.

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 stores. 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.

External Resources:
  1. Cultivation of Cannabis | Release
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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