Whether you’re hoping to take advantage of your local outdoor gardening season or you’re just working on your indoor cannabis garden ahead of time, it’s always smart to plan. Understanding how to buy marijuana seeds is the foundation of any successful cannabis garden.
Maybe it sounds easy to pick up a few marijuana seeds and throw them in the ground, but that’s really not the case. To start with, just knowing how and where to buy the best cannabis seeds legally can be a challenge.
Differing legalities in different jurisdictions mean that it’s essential to do some research before buying marijuana seeds. This guide aims to answer frequently asked questions about buying marijuana seeds to help all cannabis fans grow their own if they choose to.
Marijuana Seeds: The Basics
Just like edibles, concentrates, and flower, most governments and experts alike classify marijuana seeds as cannabis products. Whether or not they’re legal depends mostly on where you live.
For example, Californians can buy marijuana seeds for both medical and recreational purposes from a marijuana seed bank. Residents can also grow and sell marijuana seeds within California.
In contrast, in medical marijuana states, only patients may buy marijuana seeds after showing a valid medical card. And don’t expect to stroll into a store in a total prohibition state and purchase marijuana seeds. Officer Friendly won’t let you keep them if he finds them on you, either.
This discussion only refers to the United States. International seed banks sell marijuana seeds solely as “souvenirs.” This distinction does not defeat local, state, or federal laws, necessarily.
Consumers and growers in legal states can just shop at dispensaries, although the practical downside to this is a more limited number of strain options. For strain enthusiasts, shopping for marijuana seeds online is far superior given the extensive strain selection.
That also means an explosion of products to choose from, however, and it’s not always a given that you’ll get a high quality product. Learning how to buy marijuana seeds is part science and part art.
That’s where this guide comes in.
What Cannabis Seeds Are
Mature cannabis plants grow from either seeds or clones. Marijuana seeds, just like any other plant seeds, hold genetic information from each of their two parent plants. These genetic traits go on to be expressed by plants in numerous different combinations, with each plant presenting at least some traits from each parent.
Growing from seed can allow you to create hardier plants with stronger genetics. It is often also easier for the average home-grower to get high-quality seeds than it is to find good clones.
Cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning they can be either male or female. However, it’s the female plants that produce the buds that everyone wants. Only the pollinated buds go on to make seeds and more plants, but the buds without seeds are the ones that are better to consume.
After the seeds mature, the work of the plant is done. At that point, the female cannabis plant starts to die, dropping its seeds. They either germinate naturally or users harvest them for a variety of uses in food products, seed oil, and, of course, farming.
Cannabis growers raise female plants isolated from males so they will not produce seeds, or they carefully remove male plants before they can pollinate the females. These high-potency female varieties of marijuana are seedless or sinsemilla.
There are also cannabis varieties that can produce both female flowers and male pollinating parts on the same plants. These hermaphrodite plants are more likely to express both sexes under environmental stress. In some cases, they even self-pollinate.
How Do Feminized Cannabis Seeds Differ from Regular Seeds?
Cannabis seeds have both male and female parents, of course, and any given seed could turn out male or female. There is no way to tell whether a seed will produce a male or female plant. The ideal time to identify the future sex of a plant is just as it begins to flower.
In general, the male to female growth ratio among regular marijuana seeds is 66 percent in favor of female plants. That said, it is safest to assume that your ratio will be about half and half, which is what growers should always do with regular cannabis seeds.
Feminized cannabis seeds are specifically bred to eliminate male chromosomes and produce female seeds. This effectively guarantees that every seed that germinates becomes a female.
Growers produce feminized seeds by causing the hermaphrodite, monoecious condition in a female cannabis plant. By doing this, the seeds of the plant are nearly identical to the female parent’s seeds, only they are self-pollinated and will not produce any male plants. This is sometimes called “cloning by seed.”
Growers feminize seeds by spraying the cannabis plant with a colloidal silver solution, by fertilizing the female plant with another female past maturity (rodelization), or less frequently by treating the seeds with a germination hormone called gibberellic acid.
Unlike male seeds, feminized seeds have teardrop-like shapes and a calyx structure.
Some growers prefer using feminized seeds to streamline their process, avoid worrying about pollinating the female plants, and save more time and space. Both medical marijuana and hobby growers care about space, because most cannabis regulations limit the number of plants you can grow.
With feminized marijuana seeds it’s a guaranteed no-seed, no hassle, high-yield bud harvest every grow, in terms of advantages.
Even so, more experienced growers often avoid feminized seeds. This is because they contain just one set of genes. For this reason, they are not good for breeding. (Obviously, breeding with a single set of genes is the ultimate inbreeding.)
Remember, growing both males and females, don’t wait too long to visually identify them during the early flowering stage. Once your males produce pollen, the entire crop will be seedy. We love marijuana seeds, but not to smoke! Ideally, retain a male or males to breed with female plants in sealed-off sections of your grow area to avoid cross-pollination.
New growers or those hoping for speed often look for autoflowering seeds. This is because they often produce excellent results from seed to flower in only 10 weeks, with no light cycle management. Thus, year long growing is possible, even for beginners.
Most varieties of cannabis start to flower when the light in the sky drops to around 12 hours a day in autumn as the seasons change. This is why the light cycle looks like it does, even indoors.
Cannabis ruderalis, a species which evolved in northern climates with far less sunlight, flowers automatically once the plant achieves a certain age. This is where the term auto-flowering comes from, and some breeders have crossed ruderalis strains with other cannabis varieties to create auto-flowering seeds and strains.
Autoflower strains obviously begin to flower as soon as they reach maturity. They are far easier to grow, especially outside, and they are smaller plants overall. They will also flower even after continuous light exposure, as they naturally work to maximize available summer light.
For all of these reasons, growers may be able to harvest multiple crops of auto-flowering cannabis seeds in the time of one normal cannabis harvest. If speed is your goal as a grower, they are the obvious choice.
The disadvantage of autoflowering strains is that compared to feminized cannabis strains their yields are typically less potent and smaller. Especially for medical growers, this can be a deal-breaker. It’s not great for a hobby grower looking to maximize space, either, since potency and yield matter.
One final factor to consider when buying cannabis seed strains is skill level. Not all marijuana seed are equally easy to cultivate.
Some strains are very low maintenance, while others need serious TLC from seed to bud. Furthermore, depending on your goals, the high effort strains may not even be more worthwhile for you.
When selecting the very best cannabis seeds for your grow, always be entirely up front about your skill level and goals. If you’re a new grower, own it, and plan accordingly. Each marijuana seed strain is ranked by effort level, so pay attention!
Difference Between Cannabis Seeds and Clones
To create clones of a particular strain, commercial cannabis growers will plant many seeds and select the best plant. That parent plant can then be the source of the clones, smaller “cuttings,” that the grower can mass produce. The result is many high-quality plants with consistent genetics.
Just reading about clones, it probably sounds like raising them is easier than growing a plant from seeds, but that’s actually not the case. Raising clones is an advanced growing operating in and of itself.
First, fresh clones demand extensive attention and care because of how sensitive they are, especially during the time when they are initially replanted. During this first stage transplant shock is common, so lots of light and nutrients are essential to nursing the replanted clones through it. Transplant failure is a frequent experience for novice growers.
In addition, clones are plants themselves, each vulnerable to diseases such as molds and fungus and to pests as well. In fact, as exact copies of the mother plant, clones are subject to any weaknesses that can strike the parent. This can mean a problem spreading through a crop like lightning that only an experienced, quick response can handle before all of the plants die.
In contrast, although it may sound more daunting at first, growing cannabis plants from seeds is actually easier in many ways. This isn’t to say that growing huge, optimal crops doesn’t take work! It’s just to say that growing from marijuana seeds is a natural process that anyone can learn.
Why Buy Cannabis Seeds?
You might as well ask: why grow cannabis: Growing from seed is the best way to enjoy from scratch marijuana exactly the way you want it. Cultivating plants from marijuana seeds can offer you a unique satisfaction, not to mention experience.
You’re right: there’s nothing easier today than rolling into a dispensary, browsing pages of a menu, and picking out exactly what you want. But there’s nothing more rewarding than planting those marijuana seeds and watching them push up through the dirt.
You can also take things to the next level in terms of getting exactly what you want. Have you been reading about an amazing strain that you just can’t find anywhere? Buy the marijuana seeds!
Or maybe you have two all-time favorite strains and you’re dying to see what would happen if you crossed them? Find out. Grow and smoke your own!
Great Places to Buy Marijuana Seeds
If you live where cannabis is legal, you probably have lots of options for getting your cannabis on. But even if you do live in legal cannabis territory, buying marijuana seeds online opens up a whole new universe of strains.
For many first-timers, the idea of buying marijuana seeds online is scary at best. No question that for anyone it is essential to buy marijuana seeds only from reputable sources. All of the seed banks say you can trust them, but read our reviews of the best seed banks to get the full story on where to buy marijuana seeds.
Is It Safe to Buy Marijuana Seeds Online?
If you are wondering about legal issues, please see those questions below. If you are wondering about the safety for the seeds, read on.
It’s very safe to buy marijuana seeds online. Shippers pack the marijuana seeds carefully, and in any event they are not fragile. They are not especially temperature sensitive, although you should store them in the freezer long-term.
Seeds should never get wet before they are planted, so reputable sellers will ensure your seed package is weather proof.
Is It Legal to Buy Marijuana Seeds Online?
Marijuana prohibition started decades ago when the federal government banned all cultivation, sales, and use of cannabis. Although we here in the USA have made significant progress toward legalization since then, marijuana and marijuana seeds remain illegal substances at the federal level.
As of spring 2020, cannabis is legal in many different countries, and here in the US its legal status remains a patchwork. Recreational cannabis is legal in 11 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Commercial cannabis distribution is allowed in each of these places except Vermont and DC.
In addition to those legal jurisdictions, the US Virgin Islands and another 15 states have decriminalized (in addition to whatever other law is on the books): Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
Some form of medical cannabis is legal according to applicable guidelines with a doctor’s endorsement in 33 states, and several US territories, and the District of Columbia. In 21 of those states, medical cannabis is legal for medical use: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia.
14 additional states have medical marijuana laws that permit products with limited THC content and high cannabidiol (CBD): Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug at the federal level. However, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment protects individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws from federal prosecution. Before former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded it in January 2018, the Cole Memorandum partially protected states recreational marijuana states against federal enforcement. However, that imperfect protection is now gone.
Despite the federal prohibition of cannabis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several derivative compounds of the plant for prescription use. FDA-approved prescription drugs with cannabinoids as active ingredients include Cesamet (nabilone), Syndros (THC), Marinol (THC), and Epidiolex (cannabidiol). And although cannabidiol products derived from industrial hemp are legal at the federal level for over the counter use, enforcement and legality varies from state to state.
Just like concentrates, edibles, and flower, marijuana seeds are cannabis products. Where you are determines whether they are legal or not.
Numerous seed banks outside of the US sell marijuana seeds for “souvenir purposes,” but what happens to those seeds really depends on the law where you are. Although customs doesn’t catch everything, it is safe to assume they will seize any marijuana seeds they find on you or in your packages. In other countries, you’re really taking your chances.
How Long Can You Store Cannabis Seeds?
Cannabis has a shelf life of about two to three months overall before starting to lose THC potency. This assumes you have followed proper storage protocols after your cannabis harvest. After six months, even frozen, various environmental factors cause cannabis to continue to degrade and lose potency.
What Are The Different Types Of Marijuana Strains?
There are so many cannabis strains out there today, with a range of terpene profiles, flavors, THC and CBD content, and effects. However, many people still think about cannabis strains in terms of species being tied to medical benefits or effects. Typically, Cannabis sativa strains do have higher THC content, while Cannabis indica strains have higher CBD content.
Is there a difference beyond that potential THC/CBD ratio in indica vs sativa marijuana seeds? Although it is mostly urban legend that indica and sativa strains provide different, predictable effects, one of the only times the indica/sativa distinction might actually matter is to a grower.
Generally, it is easier to grow Indica cannabis seeds successfully because they have a much shorter flowering time and are less sensitive. Sativas reach fruition more slowly, and during that time thay are less forgiving than indica strains overall. Of course hybrids in particular vary significantly from strain to strain, but especially for less experienced growers, these are notable differences.
What Are the Best Selling Cannabis Strains?
This depends in large part on where people are growing cannabis and what the trends are, but in general these remain among the most popular strains of marijuana seeds:
- Amnesia Haze
- Banana Kush
- Big Bud
- Blue Dream
- Critical Mass
- Durban Poison
- Girl Scout Cookies Extreme
- Gorilla Glue
- Great White Shark
- Jack Herer
- Northern Lights
- OG Kush
- Pineapple Haze
- Purple Haze
- Purple Kush
- Skywalker OG
- Sour Diesel
- Strawberry Kush
- Super Silver Haze
- Super Skunk
- Tangerine Dream
- Wedding Cake
- White Widow
Are Indoor CBD Seeds and Marijuana Seeds Worth Buying?
Actually, although you might have heard the phrase “indoor seeds,” there is no real difference between seeds. The difference is in whether a strain thrives indoors or outdoors.
Even so, indoor cultivation is preferable for many cannabis growers. Marijuana seeds germinate reliably and grow quickly inside—and they are more reliably under your close control. Indoor cultivation is also more discreet, not to mention possible all year long no matter what the outdoor climate is like.
Best Marijuana Seeds for Beginners?
For first time growers, marijuana seeds with friendlier growth cycles are a real life saver. Avoid very delicate strains that demand precision farming for good returns until you gain experience. As a new grower, we recommend these as the best marijuana seeds for beginners:
- Amnesia Haze
- Big Bud
- Blue Dream
- Critical Mass
- Gorilla Glue
- Green Crack
- Jack Herer
- Maui Wowie
- Northern Lights
- Purple Haze
- Super Skunk
- White Widow
What Are High CBD Marijuana Seeds?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids, natural chemical components, found in marijuana. Although many growers select Cannabis strains for their high-THC content, higher CBD strains are now becoming more popular for their perceived medical benefits.
In order to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill, growers select cannabis strains used in hemp production for low THC content as well as high quantities of CBD. As consumers become more interested in the medical potential of CBD, many breeders have been crossing cannabis with high-CBD hemp. In some cases they have created medical strains with little or no THC, even ratios of THC and CBD, or both high-THC and significant CBD content.
Remember, if your aim is to grow high CBD cannabis, it takes time and effort. Even these specialized high CBD marijuana seed lines are not guaranteed to produce at the level you hope for. You might need to breed for the traits you like over time—just like with other benefits.
Is There A Difference Between Medical Cannabis And Recreational Cannabis?
When it comes to marijuana seeds, there is no real difference between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis. Those kinds of distinctions have to do with the law, THC and CBD levels, and the intent of the consumer.
What’s The Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor-Grown Cannabis?
Depending on your available space, you can select species of marijuana seeds for indoor and outdoor cultivation.
Outdoor strands are typically very robust, thriving best and growing large in a natural habitat. To grow cannabis from seed outdoors, seek out strains that are more resistant to extreme weather issues and environmental changes. Some of our favorite outdoor strains include Blueberry, Critical Kush, and Northern Lights.
Some growers choose indoor marijuana seeds because they don’t have much cultivation space, but others select these strains because they have more ability to control humidity levels, temperature, and lighting times. Certain strains demand closer weather control because they are fragile. These strains are much more successful overall indoors. Some of our favorite indoor strains include Amnesia, Big Bud, and White Widow.
Outdoor-friendly cannabis can typically make the switch and survive indoors. However, it doesn’t work both ways, and indoor-grown cannabis usually needs to stay that way. Any sort of marijuana seed should germinate well where it is safe from serious environmental changes.
What Makes a Marijuana Seed High Quality?
Good genetics is the most important factor in seed quality. Less ethical breeders might randomly cross strains and sell whatever they come up with.
A reliable breeder will cross and backcross plants despite the time investment it requires to generate many different phenotypes while stabilizing the plant’s most desirable traits. In other words, it takes more than just crossing a male and a female one time to create a consistent hybrid strain with stable genetics.
To ensure seed quality, you have to store and use seeds as they are intended. Store marijuana seeds in a dark, cool place for up to 16 months, or frozen, to avoid mold and other pathogens. Marijuana seeds must mature completely before harvest.
How to Check Quality of Marijuana Seeds
No one wants to go through the entire planting process only to have wasted time on duds. It’s far easier in the long run to learn the difference between quality cannabis seeds and bad ones. In fact, the ability to judge marijuana seed quality is critical for growers, because buying bad cannabis seeds is always a risk.
Always inspect how marijuana seeds look and feel. While some problems are readily perceptible, others require more experience to detect.
The outer shells of healthier, genetically superior marijuana seeds display darker colors. Dark and greyish shades are also signs of healthy, mature seeds. Seeds that are pale or green are still immature and may not germinate slowly, if at all.
You should also palpate the seeds to check how they feel. When you touch the seeds, they should feel firm. Gently squeeze seeds between your thumb and finger to ensure they don’t bend, crack, or fold under pressure—like the kind that comes from being underground.
Always go for mature marijuana seeds that are fresh and have proven, stable, high-quality genetics.
How Cannabis Seeds Germinate
The process of a plant growing out of a seed or “popping” is called germination. In addition to marijuana seeds, this process requires air, water, and heat and is the first step in any cannabis grow. One common germination technique involves using water soaked paper towels as a substrate—but whatever method or substrate you choose, realize that if your seeds stop absorbing moisture the process will stop forever.
Stop the germination process when the tap roots are 1- 2 cm long. Stopping it too soon will set the seeds up to fail, and waiting too long will risk root damage in transplantation. In fact, this is why you should avoid using soil to germinate seeds directly; it will be too difficult to transplant the seedlings later.
Remember that plants and germinating seeds are natural things. They do not follow your plans all of the time. Even truly high-quality marijuana seeds sometimes sprout slowly, and there are occasionally duds in any group. Breeding or cutting from your very best plants will give you the best results in the long run.
How Many Seeds Survive?
A certain percentage of plants always don’t germinate when you grow any amount of seeds, no matter how reputable the breeder. Assume around one-quarter of the number you plant will fail, to be safe.
Remember, with regular marijuana seeds, not only will some fail to germinate, but some will be males and need to be discarded. Some feminized seeds won’t germinate, but more successfully grow into flowering plants.
For a successful harvest, plan ahead. If you are using regular marijuana seeds, use about four times as many seeds as you want for your plant goal. In other words, if you want to end up with five plants, start with 20 seeds. This way when around 25 percent fail to germinate (that leaves you with 15 plants) and you have to get rid of up to half or so (leaving you with as few as six or seven plants) you are still in the clear.
If you’re growing with feminized seeds, start with around twice as many as your goal for plants. So in our example, you’d start with 10 seeds hoping to get five plants. Two or three might fail to germinate, but you’d still have seven or eight plants, unless something went wrong.
In both cases you have a little room to discard less healthy plants. In the end you should be able to choose the five best phenotypes with confidence.
Remember, never grow more than the local law allows.
How Much Do Marijuana Seeds Cost?
Typically, marijuana seeds come in packs of 10 or 12 seeds, or sometimes multiples of 10 seeds. There is a lot of range here, but expect to start at around $4 a seed for reliable breeding. High-end or specialty genetics can cost hundreds of dollars for a package of seeds.
Because it takes more work to create them and they quickly and more reliably produce, autoflower and feminized weed seeds often cost more. Some breeders offer promotions and free seeds, especially for repeat customers and people who share their products on social media.
Final Thoughts on How to Buy Marijuana Seeds
Buying marijuana seeds is one of the best things you can do for yourself. There’s nothing better than growing your own amazing crop just the way you like it. Keep our guide on how to buy marijuana seeds handy as you gain experience as a grower, and share your own tips here.