March 25 2009 12:00 AM

Marijuana Journal is a weekly column tracking the implementation of the state medical marijuana law. Greg Francisco is the executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. This column appears online every Monday and every Wednesday in print.

“Grow Michigan Green,” reads the sign on a nursery I saw while I was driving around recently. It put a smile on my face and pictures in my head, but probably not the pictures the nursery owners were going for.

One of the most frequent questions we field at the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association is, “Where do I get seeds and clones?” The law allows patients and caregivers to cultivate small amounts of marijuana but it is silent on just where this genetic material is supposed to come from. Does it just fall out of the sky? Reality is, patients will get seeds and clones from the same place they’ve always gotten seeds and clones: Informal networking.

Jon Gettman of George Mason University published “Marijuana Production in the United States” in 2006. Using official U.S. Department of Agriculture and Drug Enforcement Agency data, Gettman estimated that the annual value of marijuana crop in Michigan would be $325 million, putting it in third place behind corn ($537 million) and soybeans ($420 million) as our state’s most lucrative crop. You’d think the state would be anxious to tax a cash cow of that size, but that’s a side issue from this week’s column. The fact is there is no shortage of medicinal grade medical marijuana seed and clones in Michigan. Just ask around.

State law protects legitimate medical marijuana patients in Michigan when they transfer, buy or exchange medical marijuana seeds. But federal laws still apply. That means patients should never order seeds off the Internet or attempt to receive seeds through the mail. Doing so violates several federal laws and regulations covering electronic communication and postal services.

Medical marijuana seeds are also legally sold through retail outlets in Ontario, just a short car trip away. But don’t even think about it — bringing seeds back across the border is regarded as smuggling and anyone caught should expect harsh treatment.

Like everything else having to deal with the new law, it’s going to take some time for this to sort itself out. But scratch the surface and you’ll quickly discover medical marijuana seeds and clones have been here all along. It’s just a matter of knowing whom to ask.