Medical marijuana: Seed sales "gray area" with the state

The rumor going around the medical cannabis community that all seed sales have been suspended is not true. However, state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division officials admit that they aren't quite sure how to regulate that part of the industry.

A February 3 blog post by Colorado-based Centennial Seeds founder Ben Holmes stated that due to confusion at the state level, he would no longer be selling his seeds until the situation could be sorted out.

"I have very recently become aware of an action by the MMED wherein my seeds are not allowed for sale in the state's licensed dispensaries," he wrote. "This is a complete surprise to me and I have not yet been able to reach a representative of the DOR or MMED for clarification. Since the beginning of my efforts, I have worked hard to set a good example of how a seed business should be conducted. I've set very high standards on germination, labeling, safety, quality and customer service. I hope this is the impression we have left with those who have supported us."

So, are seed sales banned? No, says Julie Postlethwait, spokeswoman for the MMED. But she admits that "it is a gray area. It is mentioned as being a form of medical marijuana. Technically they are allowed, but we have not yet defined how that would be."

There isn't much language about seeds in current Colorado medical marijuana laws and regulations. The only place they are mentioned is in the MMED rules posted last July. The passage reads:

Propagation includes but is not limited to the reproduction of Cannabis plants by seeds, cuttings or grafting in a designated limited access area only of an OPC [Optional Premises Cultivation Operation] facility that is monitored by one or more surveillance cameras as required by rule.

The propagation space shall be clearly identified by signage designated by the MMED and all marijuana located in the propagation space shall be accounted for as inventory. Propagation shall only be allowed upon an OPCL licensed premises.

Holmes says he would be in favor of a system that follows existing agricultural guidelines, such as the ability to track seeds sold by batch number, as well as to perform research and development. "If this wasn't a scary plant, this is how they would do it," he says. "That's how they do it with corn or any other seeds."

Postlethwait reveals that the MMED has been seeking some guidance on the issue from the legislature, but she can't predict if a fix will be made this session. In the interim, she notes, seed sales have not been banned by the MMED and says the current discussion is in no way related to seed companies recently opening up operations out of state. Things like that wouldn't even involve her agency, she maintains.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana dispensary review: Tea Pot Lounge in Denver" and "Cannabis Business Association thinks MMJ industry too young to unionize."

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