Dear Herb: Can I make legal cannabis seeds from legal cannabis seeds? Can I use colloidal silver to do it?

Colloidal silver is made up of silver particles suspended in liquid. Herb offers particles of wisdom, suspended in words.


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Dear Herb: According to government regulations, Ontario citizens may only grow cannabis plants with Ontario Cannabis Store seeds, all others have been deemed illegal.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/05/2019 (1344 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Herb: According to government regulations, Ontario citizens may only grow cannabis plants with Ontario Cannabis Store seeds, all others have been deemed illegal.

If someone was to use the colloidal silver water process to make feminized seeds from a plant grown from legally purchased OCS seeds, would those seeds be legal as well, because of the legal parent genetics? — Smiley

Dear Smiley: Thanks for the fascinating question. Before I answer, I’d like to correct one statement in your question — I don’t see anything in Ontario’s Cannabis Control Act that says Ontarians can only grow their four legal cannabis plants with seeds sourced from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

Herb answers your questions about legal consumption and growing, the law, etiquette — you name it, he'll look into it.

Yes, Canadians who want to grow cannabis at home in accordance with the law must do so from legally sourced seeds or seedlings, which generally means those starting materials came from a licensed cannabis seller such as the OCS. (I’ve previously explained a few other possible ways to source legal cannabis starting materials, including seeds found in legally-purchased bud and seeds or seedlings shared in limited amounts by people authorized to grow them for medical purposes.)

I also believe seeds sourced from another province’s authorized cannabis retailer would be perfectly legal to grow in any province that permits home-cannabis cultivation, although it would be tricky to actually get those seeds to Ontario since provincially licensed recreational cannabis retailers only sell within their home province. But in theory, I think it would be 100 per cent legal for a friend in, say, Nova Scotia to buy four seeds from their province’s legal cannabis retailer and then share those seeds with you.

Back to your question, Smiley. I’m going to break it down into two parts: First, can an unlicensed individual like you take legally purchased cannabis seeds, then use them to generate more legal cannabis seeds without breaking the law? Second, can that be done using the colloidal silver method?

1) Can I legally create cannabis seeds from legally obtained cannabis seeds without having a government cannabis licence?

Yes, within certain limits. The federal Cannabis Act doesn’t explicitly define “legal cannabis,” the kind you’re allowed to possess and grow at home, but it does explicitly define “illicit cannabis,” the kind you’re not allowed to possess or produce under the law:

“Illicit cannabis means cannabis that is or was sold, produced or distributed by a person prohibited from doing so under this act or any provincial act or that was imported by a person prohibited from doing so under this act.‍” (Emphasis mine.)

Let’s apply that definition to the hypothetical legal cannabis seeds you mentioned, sourced from the Ontario Cannabis Store. Those seeds meet all the criteria for legal cannabis: they were sold and distributed by a legally authorized retailer. We also know those seeds were produced by an authorized cannabis producer — otherwise the OCS wouldn’t be selling them.

As long as you’re sticking to the various federal and provincial rules regarding home cannabis production, any cannabis produced from those legally sourced starting materials should be considered legal cannabis. That would also apply to any cannabis seeds produced from those plants, since the law considers cannabis seeds a class of cannabis. But if you sold or distributed those seeds illegally, they would become illicit cannabis.

In terms of possession limits, keep in mind that a single cannabis seed is the legal equivalent of one gram of cannabis. Most provinces and territories don’t have home possession limits for cannabis (see the previous link for more details) so unless you live in B.C., Quebec or Nunavut there’s no limit to how many cannabis seeds you can store at home. It would be illegal to possess more than 30 cannabis seeds in public, just like it’s illegal to possess more than 30 grams of dried cannabis in public.

Under Canadian law, an individual cannabis seed is the legal equivalent of one gram of dried cannabis bud. (Mary Esch / The Associated Press Files)

2) Can I legally create cannabis seeds using the colloidal silver method?

I ran this question by Health Canada, and the answer is no.

As far as Health Canada is concerned, colloidal silver counts as a “plant growth regulator,” which are strictly controlled under both the federal Fertilizers Act and the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).

Even though colloidal silver isn’t used for pest control, Health Canada said it would still have to be registered for use on cannabis under the PCPA in order to be used. (Here is the list of all 26 registered cannabis pest control products in Canada. The Leaf News also wrote about Health Canada’s approach to pesticides for cannabis last year.)

Since colloidal silver isn’t on the list right now, licensed cannabis producers aren’t allowed to use it in cannabis production. That prohibition also applies to individual home cannabis growers, according to Health Canada.

“An individual adult who chooses to grow cannabis for personal use would be subject to the PCPA and would not be permitted to use a pest control product that is not registered for use on cannabis,” wrote a Health Canada spokesperson in response to my request.

(Realistically, I don’t see how Health Canada could enforce that rule for individual growers, since they’re not going around and inspecting unlicensed home cannabis production. Even so, the regulator’s position here is pretty clear: colloidal silver can’t be used in cannabis production, at least for now.)

I’m not an expert in cannabis cultivation, but there are other ways to produce female cannabis seeds without using colloidal silver. I think this seed producer’s website offers a pretty reasonable explanation of the pros and cons of colloidal silver and another method, rodelization, that doesn’t involve applying any foreign substances to your cannabis plants.

Producing lots of cannabis seeds at home with just four plants might be tricky, but a personal medical cannabis production licence could let you possess more than four plants to play with. If you’re really serious about legally producing cannabis seeds, though, your best bet might be to apply for a cannabis nursery licence.

Canadians can only buy cannabis seeds sold and distributed by a legally authorized retailer. They can cultivate their own seeds using other legal seeds. (Joe Mahoney / The Canadian Press files)

Got a question about cannabis? Herb answers your questions about legal consumption and growing, the law, etiquette — you name it, he’ll look into it.

First, please check this list of questions already answered by Herb. Then, email, or to submit anonymously, fill out the form below. Please include an email address if you’d like to be notified when Herb answers your question:  


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