Dear Herb: I bought some legal weed from my local store, and found seeds within the buds. Can I use these as my legal seeds for home cultivation? — Seeds of Hope
Dear Seeds: This is a fascinating question, at least for a cannabis nerd like me.
At this point, you've probably read media reports about the dilemma for aspiring home cannabis cultivators in Canada. Even though federal law now permits Canadian adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, the law also requires those plants to come from legally-sourced seeds or seedlings.
Right now, no one's actually selling those starting materials (sales of legal cannabis seeds and clones might start sometime in 2019), so home growers who want to stay within the boundaries of the law are out of luck. You might have just hit the jackpot finding those seeds in your legally purchased cannabis. Let's review what the Cannabis Act says about cultivation:
"Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited for an individual who is 18 years of age or older to cultivate, propagate or harvest, or to offer to cultivate, propagate or harvest,
(a) a cannabis plant that is from a seed or plant material that they know is illicit cannabis; or
(b) more than four cannabis plants at any one time in their dwelling-house."Advertisement
The seeds in question were sold to you from a legal, government-regulated source, so I don't see how they could possibly be illicit. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that you could plant up to four of these seeds at home without violating the law.
There's a botanical catch, though.
The highest-quality, most potent cannabis bud comes from unfertilized female cannabis plants. That's why cannabis seeds sold for home cultivation are typically "feminized," meaning they're guaranteed to be females when they grow up.
The seeds you found in your legal cannabis bud likely came from a female cannabis plant that became an intersex cannabis plant, explains expert cannabis breeder Ryan Lee, CEO of Chemovar Corp. (The cannabis community often calls such plants "hermaphrodites," but Lee says the term "intersex" is more accurate.)
The most likely scenario here is that the female plant became intersex as a result of environmental stress, and grew some male pollen sacs. Then it pollinated itself.
Because that female plant was simultaneously the "mother" and "father" of its own seeds, Lee explains, any resulting seeds would grow up just like their mother — "genetically female, but they'd have a predisposition to be intersex."
Assuming this is indeed what happened with your legal weed, any female plants that grow from these seeds will have a heightened risk of pollinating themselves and growing their own seeds.
"Plants that produce seed, they put the energy into producing seed and they put less energy into producing cannabinoids and terpenes," explains Lee.
Seed-producing female plants should yield some cannabis bud, but that weed will be less potent than it would be if the plants had gone unfertilized. Plus, it will contain even more seeds that you'll want to pick out of the bud before you use it, just like hippies back in the day.
"Plants that produce seed, they put the energy into producing seed and they put less energy into producing cannabinoids and terpenes." -Ryan Lee
Here's a question for you, Seeds of Hope: what kind of legal cannabis contained these seeds? That might be useful information for other Canadian cannabis gardeners.
Generally speaking, finding seeds in cannabis bud indicates poor cultivation practices and a low-quality product, but in this case, I could imagine seeded legal cannabis bud being a popular item!
If you can, please snap a photo of the package containing this seeded cannabis, including the lot number that should be listed somewhere in the fine print.
A photo of the bud and the seeds would also be useful. Please send any photos to me at email@example.com.
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