More legal cannabis seeds are coming to online stores. Will anyone buy them?
Canada’s Cannabis Act, which came into force in October 2018, allows adults to grow up to four plants at home. In theory, it seems great. A single outdoor plant can yield four to eight ounces of dried cannabis flower, or 112 to 224 grams. But in practice? Sourcing seeds to sow or clones to grow hasn’t been easy. Thus far, most licensed cannabis cultivators have kept a tight lid on their genetics.
“I bought auto-flower plants because I read that they’re much easier and foolproof for first time growers,” says Chris, a home-grower from Peterborough, Ont. who asked that his last name be withheld. “And they didn’t have those on (the Ontario Cannabis Store website). And actually, the seeds that they did have weren’t in stock when I was looking. So I had to go elsewhere.”
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Where’s elsewhere? Designated growers for medical purposes can share seeds so long as they’re not for sale; illicit growers could certainly do the same, and there are also illicit seed sites with massive banks of unregulated genetics.
But in mid-May, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) announced that in addition to the two types of seeds that they’ve offered so far, both by Canopy Growth, the provincial online retailer has signed deals with two more companies: ANC Cannabis, an Alberta micro-cultivator, and British Columbia-based ProgenyBio Agricultural Services.
According to Pete Shearer, who heads up the dried flower and seed product categories at the OCS, seeds are one of the most frequently searched products on their website. But because licensed producers have been focused on growing and selling flower rather than sharing their genetics, it’s been challenging to serve those consumers.
Given how the pandemic is keeping so many people constrained to their homes, Shearer says this could be the dawn of a new era of government-regulated cannabis seed options and home-growing enthusiasts.
“The hoarding of genetics is starting to lift a little bit,” he says. “And as a result, we’re seeing companies coming to the table with seeds. This is such an amazing turning point for this segment. The way I see it, this time next year we’ll have a much broader assortment that home growers will be excited to purchase and grow.”
But seeds on both the illicit and legal markets don’t come cheap. Four Bakerstreet seeds, for example, are $60 + tax at the OCS (which is about what Chris paid for his illicit seeds, although they can be found for less). However, if grown economically, savings can still add up significantly.
Of course, that all depends on a successful grow, which isn’t as simple as growing a tomato plant, Shearer says. There are a number of companies offering indoor grow gear like lights and tents; growing schools and workshops; and innumerable sources of nutrients and other types of gear for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
Sales are way up for Mary.AG’s automated homegrow technology, says the company’s PR rep, Alex Krause. But he’s less certain about there being a massive demand for regulated source materials.
“ With seeds being added as one of the newer products categories, there should be a noticeable uptick in demand for regulated seed products as part of the growing at home trend that has resulted from COVID isolation,” he says. “That said, many people have seeds of their own from last season, or have been gifted seeds/seedlings from friends.”
For Chris in Peterborough, he’s not investing in any grow lights or a tent for indoor cultivation, and he’s going to keep the process as low-key and inexpensive as possible. Instead, he’s simply built an extra raised bed reserved for cannabis, which he hopes will thrive alongside his tomatoes and veggies outside this summer.
“T he way I’m approaching this really is that as far as seeds go, they’re pretty expensive,” he says. “But it’s also not a lot of money. So if it works, it’s great. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll just plant some vegetables in my garden.”
Canadians can finally buy cannabis seeds online in select provinces
As reported just over two weeks ago from this update, Canadians are only legally allowed to grow Cannabis from legal seeds, and if you’re thinking it’d be easy enough to grow your own cannabis with legally obtained seeds (since cannabis was legalized over two months ago)- you’d be wrong.
While the Cannabis Act allows Canadians to grow up to 4 plants (although the specifics vary across the country), it wasn’t until yesterday, Jan. 3, 2018, that news agencies began reporting that the Ontario Cannabis Stores finally began offering seeds for sale- a whopping two strains from licensed producer Tweed.
Your two options are either indica-dominant “Bakerstreet seeds” or a 1:1 THC:CBD strain that Tweed calls “Argyle”. Both the indica seeds and 1:1 THC:CBD sell for $60.
With actual legal access, consumers are finally being given a tiny chance to lawfully break ground and root their own Cannabis into Canadian Soil, but Canadians’ options for legal cannabis seeds still remains extremely limited.
If the province or territory that you reside in does not have seeds available on its online cannabis store, you’re sadly out of luck, as the retailers will only ship to addresses located within their respective areas.
Legal seeds for sale on BC and Alberta cannabis store websites
Cannabis seeds for sale as they appear on the BC Cannabis Store website.
Cannabis seeds also appeared for sale on the cannabis websites for Alberta and BC, and while the selection is the same as listed on the Ontario Cannabis Store website, BC is selling the seeds for slightly cheaper than the $60 being charged in Alberta and Ontario. On the BC Cannabis Store website, both packs of seeds retail for $55.99.
As of writing, the indica-dominant “Bakerstreet seeds” have already sold out on the Alberta Cannabis website.
What about seedlings or clones?
As for clones, BC Cannabis Store confirmed “they will not be handling seedlings” as they have no reasonable means of doing so.
Cannabis retailer Fire and Flower were not able to give insight into their timeline for releasing seeds while also saying it has no plans for selling seedlings, either.
Sadly since the New Year, OCS’ phone lines have closed, seemingly the same as Tweed’s. The Ontario Store’s site stated they do not “yet” carry clones, whether they plan to eventually or not is uncertain.
Stay tuned for updates on seeds sold through more distributors as they become more available across the country.