This blog post is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice.
The legal status of buying and selling cannabis seeds in the United Kingdom is theoretically simple, but like all things Cannabis related, it is in practice rather ambiguous. It is important for both buyers and sellers to be familiar with the contours of the UK’s current laws vis-à-vis cannabis and the status of the seeds in particular.
Current State of Law on Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis seeds are legal to buy, sell, trade, and possess in the United Kingdom. Specifically, it is legal to buy and sell the seeds over the counter as well as through the mail to and from a U.K. address. However, and this is indeed a rather big however, it is illegal to germinate cannabis seeds, cultivate, possess or use cannabis. Heavy penalties can be imposed if it is proven that the cannabis seeds are used for the commercial cultivation of marijuana. Of course in practice, there are head shops throughout the UK, which openly promote and indeed sell high potency seeds. The ubiquity of these sales indicate (although not in any official capacity) the seeming diminished interest on the part of law enforcement to curtail the sale of these seeds and has further incentivized head shops to continue with this activity.
Precautions When Buying and Possessing Cannabis Seeds
Let’s re-emphasize this point – marijuana use, possession, growth and sales is illegal in the UK. Cannabis seeds, however, that are used as collector items, bird food, and fish bait, are a legitimate acquisition. How then can an officer of the law know whether or not you plan on using these seeds to grow marijuana or simply go fishing?
If you are caught with cannabis seeds AND marijuana or marijuana plants, there may very well be a legitimate legal inference that the seeds are meant for cultivation. If law enforcement does in fact determine that the individual is cultivating marijuana for commercial gain, the penalties will be far more severe than if such an inference is not made.
Precautions when selling cannabis seeds
In order for head shops to maximize their legal protections when selling cannabis seeds, it is important to emphasize to the consumer that the germination of the seed and subsequent cultivation of marijuana is strictly illegal. Furthermore, shops in the U.K should specifically caution that the seeds are meant to be used only for purposes unrelated the growth of marijuana (fish bait, souvenirs, etc.) with a notation that seeds are not approved by any government agency for consumption. As a final measure of precaution, it would be prudent for shop owners to warn consumers that that any questions or inquiries regarding germinating or growing the seed will lead to a refusal to sell.
Ultimately, the potential liability of buying and/or selling cannabis seeds in the UK is largely dependent on the perceived intent of the seller/purchaser. If it is clear that you are purchasing the seeds to cultivate and sell marijuana, you may very well be targeted by law enforcement. Conversely, if it is clear that you are truly interested in purchasing the seeds for legitimate and non-marijuana related purposes, you are far less likely to be persecuted.