Oregon hempseed dispute leads to $21 million lawsuit

A batch of hempseeds in Oregon billed as CBD-rich females that turned out to be neither feminized nor high in the cannabinoid has led to a $21.2 million lawsuit.

That’s how much six people say they lost after the seeds resulted in inferior plants, leading to the lawsuit against three seed dealers in a southern Oregon county, the Portland Business Journal reported.

One of the plaintiffs, Jerry Paul, said he spent a whopping $1 per seed – a total of $86,000 – for the highly vaunted seeds described as “a cross between ‘Special Sauce’ and ‘SGMO’ strains of industrial hemp with an equal or better feminized rate” than others on the market.

Instead, according to Paul’s lawsuit, the seeds were “defective” and packed with pollen. He listed his loss as $11.9 million from low-performing hemp flower worth $12 a pound instead of $60 a pound.

Paul claims he lost another $5.2 million when the inferior plants cross-pollinated and damaged nearby marijuana crops.

Paul’s attorney and lawyers for the three defendants did not immediately respond to calls for comment from Hemp Industry Daily.

Oregon is among the nation’s largest CBD producers, but the state does not certify hempseeds.

Work began just this year at Oregon State University to develop proven hemp performers.

33 comments on “Oregon hempseed dispute leads to $21 million lawsuit
  1. Christopher James Flippo on


      • Howard Henry on

        I would think if you look up special sauce and $1 per seed and google it that might lead to something. Still, many people may have that strain. I know this happens. This seed seller sounds like they have limited experience. I can’t imagine why someone would do this on purpose.
        All of this is conjecture, but it will be revealed sometime and their reputation is toast, but who knows in this unfortunate climate. And…..
        They’re innocent until convicted. Maybe they’re being set up.
        All I know is this is very sad for both companies.
        States should develop strains you can count on. Also seek out some hemp growers and see who they use.
        I have a friend with a dispensary that got 100% male cannabis clones. Sexing cannabis usually takes 3-5 weeks until they show male or female.
        Seeds and genetics are difficult to patent as someone can modify it though it takes years to do it right.

        I have no idea who did this and I think if someone did, they’d be subject to a lawsuit.
        That’s why no one is responding.

    • Joey ryan on

      Breeder of special scause is Oregon CBD. The breeders are one the best in the biz. The grower is most likely a get rich quick with no experience in cannabis none the less high cbd hemp. Cry cry cry. He signed his life away buying the seed he should have known how to care for the crop, 17% flower will dilute down to 10 or less once homogenized.

  2. Opie Winston on

    My mentor business partner best friend took everything he had worth value and sold it borrowed money from loved ones. He spent over a $1 a seed with the “gaurauntee” that there will be a less then 3% hermies/females turnt to male. 14000. 14000 plants we spread iver 7 acres up and down a 103 rows. Personally I have never put so mich of myself into anything in my 29 years of life. 6 to 7 days a week sunrise to sunset. No livable pay comijg in. Yet we all gave everything into being Farmers. None of us have eber farmed but by god we became farmers the field the plants put in the ground was aa close to perfect as you could get. We were proud. But then they start devolping all the signs of male hemp plants. We started yanking out plants one after ankther after another to where is more then half. Other half got pollunated we of ckurse found this out later. I never thought a plant a weed really would affect me so deeply. I was out in the middle of that field yanked plant in my hand three sons on my mind crying, bawling. The feeling the realization that something you invested everything into in hopes of a better future for loved ones the gut wrenching knee bending eye opening moment you realized you failed. You failed your kids loved ones….no amount of money will eber make it go away. Ill forever remember that day. We had buyers for our while field. All of it. It was so seeded out that our tops are useless bio mass useless. We have had to hand squeeze out 600 pounds of seeds that going on 4 months past our initial calendered harvest pay have yet to sale. We are losing homes cars credit children paying for our failures. Failures that if werent for these bastards selling these seeds we would have never faced. I wouldnt be furiously typing this rant out at 6 am. We would be shoulder deep in a bigger field re investing our hard earned damn well deseeved profit. To really put ourselves out there. To obtain the forever out of reach American no Oregon Dream. Might not seem like much but when involves his financial future including my own and 3 others in jeopardy essentially sabotaging our futures with these seeds. Its no where near small. Estimated 1.5 2 million these seeds have cost us. Were hoping to salvage 1 million 1 5. Off of a projected 3 million plus. Oh forgot to mention the Rec grow on our property was ruined and seeded. Owner is cpming after us for 300 grand. We dont have 300 dollars. Combined. I am a farmer now tho. Never been more haply then I was turning a flat field into more then that field wpuld ever accomplish way after I’m put in the ground. Im proud. I will continue trying to make a living in this industry. Can’t be anymore defeated. Right. Rant over.

    P.s. anyone know how to contact anyone involved in this lawsuit

  3. Clarence on

    Hypothetically……….at least one of the “victims” in this lawsuit are completely inexperienced. They couldn’t grow good flower if the goddess herself gave them the seed. Furthermore, they are activley breeding from this inferior seed with the intent of selling it for the 2019 season,maybe…………;). Be warned.

    Having bred industrial hemp strains in southern oregon for the last six years, I can say with confidence, dont even think about sprouting a single seed without seeing a minimum of 4 years of solid, uninterupted proof of successful hemp breeding. This proof should include COA’s ( potency test results) from at least two separate certified labs(the test should clearly show the identification data of the person you are dealing with), Passing state department of agriculture pre harvest hemp tests(that can be verified as from the original grower) there is one guy in rogue river who is using oregon department of ag passing hemp tests that are in his name but not from his seed!!(figure that one out). A good question to ask is if anyone else has grown under their license!! This last bit is the main reason to verify multiple years. There is no substitute for time. One must do the work, period. Before anyone even asks me, i place a folder in front of them that shows all of my tests, pictures of crops for each year, plus i have samples on hand for the last few years. Dont expect to be able to keep any of that info, that is how people get scammed is when others get ahold of a legit breeders “intellectual property”. I always let it be known that references are available if need be.

    The one exception to the above would be a company that has already made their name. There is really only one in Oregon that i would use if i wasnt a breeder. I believe they have been clearly successful since 2015. They are fairly obvious. And fyi, they dont license ANY of there strains to Anyone, ever!! If you are presented with a strain name by anyone other than the original breeder, say no thank you!

    It is sad but true that between 50 and 75 percent of people in the cannabis business are not to be trusted,ever. This is especially true of old timers who are used to the strictly black market days. Ripping each other off used to be standard practice for alot of those folks. If I hear words like “legacy grower” , i check to make sure my wallet is where it should be then quietly disappear.

    • Debbie Davis on

      Clarence… how can i buy your seeds.. yes unfortunately there will be a trial and error on those who have never grown before … So true on the corrupt part of this industry…Do not trust anyone ! Desperate people DO desperate acts… Having a farm in Southern Oregon I have a major concern on pollination of my field by those purchasing these defective seeds, and not knowing how to constantly check there field for Males or herms… even legit breeders are going to have glitches…

    • VHA on

      Good luck finding legitimate breeders that have been around 4 plus years. There are not many that have been producing and selling that long to begin with. If you go back that far, they were not operating legally. Not sure the businesses or individuals that were at some point breaking the law are now by default the most trustworthy or reliable. Maybe they are, maybe they are not.

      Even if a breeder and producer has been reliable for 4 years, that’s a pretty short track record and does not validate whether they have the proper controls and processes in place to maintain stable breeding and production methods. Maybe they got lucky and avoided some serious issues. Tenure doesn’t necessarily guarantee a seed breeder is better than a start-up with a strong scientific background and technical capabilities. The massive industry potential and changes to the legal landscape could attract new entrants that are better seed breeders and producers. I suspect that could be the case as more investment comes in with larger ag players.

  4. Russell Orsborn on

    Every state has certified seed programs for ag crops, some have certified programs for Hemp others are still working on these changes for hemp.

    They will need to address both the clone and seed industry to hopefully prevent future problems.

    Every state at this point seems to have stories of the rip off/scam seed sales, with lots of promises and lots of disappointment for buyers.

    When you play in a game with very few consumer protective rules, you will get eaten by the sharks.

    Certified programs force seed sellers to prove what they say on the label.

  5. OldCountryHempCo on

    People need to be careful in this new industry.

    Feminized seeds are trash anyway.

    Learn to grow the plant. Don’t be lazy. Don’t succumb to fear.

    Grow the plant like it has grown for millennia. Males and females.

    Pull the males.

    Plant double density.

    Don’t be a lazy farmer.

    Love the plant or don’t even start.

  6. James in Oregon on

    One alternative is to buy female clones of well known and tested high CBD strains from a reputable source. Yes they’re more expensive ($2.50 to $5.00 currently), but you’re buying the assurance of 100% females and that’s the reason they’re currently selling out and back ordered in the Willamette Valley near me.

    We’ve sourced clones for years now and hemp clones are in high demand.

  7. Anthony on

    I told my partner when he handed me this seed it wasnt feminized seed ive been ripped off like this before and so ive spent 1.5 prior to this learning and researching how to make fem seeds fem seeds have a certain look to them so allnthos bs is pushing me to go into the seed buiz. Because thos shouldnt happen

  8. j on


    im close to this situation, both geographically and personally. these seeds came from a small local farm supplier. not a recognizable company or anything with a web presence. this one farm isnt surviving to do this again. but there are many other farms like this.

  9. Humboldt local on

    I have been growing for over 30 years.
    It ain’t that easy.
    Hire someone who knows what they are doing.
    Y’all should of sexed your plants ypurself.
    Can’t ever expect that seeds are what people say.
    This isn’t the seed breeders problem.
    Sounds like inexperienced growers blowing it and looking for sum1 to blame.

  10. Aidin Penn on

    I completely agree with Old Country hemp farmer. This is an emerging industry. Even feminized hemp strains are going to produce a male or hermaphrodite in every so many thousands of seeds. It only takes one hermaphrodite to pollinate an entire field of hemp plants. Everybody seems to have this idea that they’re just going to throw seeds in the ground and get rich. I’m sorry it doesn’t work that way rethink your business model. Those of us the desire to be in this have to accept the fact we’re going to endure trial and error regardless. Anyone thinking that they’re going to buy feminized hemp seed and they’re home free please let me know how that works out for you. What we have are numbers of people that know nothing about farming the decide they’re going to become farmers. It takes years and years even decades to become proficient efficient and experience in growing this plant. It forces you to have to learn about it. And this is not something that you can do through books and online tutorials it’s a Hands-On education and there is no rapid way around that. This plant exist up the evolutionary chain from humans which are a species. Cannabis is a Genus up the evolutionary ladder from humans. It would be safe to surmise that cannabis is a higher life-form the human beings. The plant kingdom you can survive without man but man can’t survive without the plant kingdom. Establishing a relationship with this plant is a necessity if you desire to become a master cultivator of this genus. Even upon reaching that point as those of us who have will humbly admit The more we know the more we don’t and you will still experience the unpredictable variables. Growing feminized seed is a slippery slope. And I would like to add that by growing feminized seed you are cultivating a GMO. Feminized seeds are genetically producing seeds from female plants that are subject to unnatural conditions or sprays or chemicals that do not exist naturally in nature under natural light regiments are modified. Mother Nature doesn’t rain colloidal silver.The fact that one plants feminized seeds does not eliminate the fact and that you are still going to have to inspect your crop on a daily basis. This is not a business for the faint of heart or lazy individuals. You’re going to take your lumps and there’s no way around it. You either have a love for the plant and a bond with it or you don’t. Basically anyone can grow it 1% of the people that grow it will grow out well and 1% of that 1% will be great. People putting it all on the line in the pursuit of getting rich on this plant that do not have countless years of experience with it that lose their asses, what can I say you’re idiots. You might as well take that money and go to Vegas you stand a better chance of winning big on your investment. We need to get real about this 75 to 80% of the people involved in this currently have no business being in it. I would not enter into any kind of a business venture to cultivate this plant hemp or cannabis indica with anyone that doesn’t have a minimum a 15 years experience in cultivating this plant. Let me say that again as a word of advice I highly advise against people becoming involved in cannabis cultivating business ventures with individuals that don’t have a minimum of 15 years cultivating experience. I don’t mean growing clones either. I’m talking about growing the plant from seed males and females separating your males understanding breeding understanding what little amount of pollen it takes to pollinate an entire crop. A single plant can pollinate Acres. I’m a consultant to both Industries and I constantly see individuals they’ve decided they’re going to get rich in this emerging industry they’re actually able to get substantial Capital behind them to venture into this that fail suffering from novice mistakes. No I’m not saying that you can’t do it I’m saying that if you do be prepared to take your lumps the learning curve with this plant is long and expensive if you desire to become great it growing this plant. You’re going to have your failures and you’re going to have a lot of them. I highly recommend before venturing into farming this plant that all business entities spend the money to hire a quality consultant that has as I said 15 years of Hands-On cultivating experience with five years of that being breeding experience and that understands all aspects of the plant including plant nutrition integrated Pest Management Disease Control and soil building. There seems to be a flood of johnny-come-lately fly-by-night Consultants that have emerged holding out as authorities on the cultivation of this plant some of which have never grown a crop in their life. Is my grandfather said you have to inspect what you expect. Do your homework hire truly experience consultants they can provide you with an A to Z farming plan inclusive of the things I’ve mentioned above and pay them whatever it is they’re asking because it would be the best money you can spend. They will address all of the aspects of pre and post Crop Production. And I wish you all good luck and happy farming.

    • Ralph C (Erik) Kennedy on

      Amen! Plant breeders are highly schooled with degrees and most have farm backgrounds. Many wait years to get a unique, stable variety and give it a name that has meaning.

      Furthermore, seed is kept in repositories that are are public and seed is available to researchers who produce more seed to put back in the repository. The seed is regular seed, not feminized seed. I conducted fiber flax research and proved we can grow high quality fiber flax using modern machinery, seed, and field retting in the cool wet springs in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. We grew out over 50 varieties which were used in a 2 year winter variety trial. Then we set up isolation plots with the remaining seed and sent it back to the repository in North seed was purchased at wholesale price.
      Dakota. We also purchased some commercial seed in 50 lb sacks from Normandy, France for larger cultural experiments and field trials. The
      We have come to a place in Marijuana research and development where the genome is in private hands and public institutions are struggling to catch up after being blocked politically for over 80 years from getting involved. It is not OK to continue the chaos through power mongering, greed, and a growers’ club that excludes true farmers and scientists, some of whom have worked their whole lives to make this crop legal, from even obtaining small lots to big lots of regular seed for breeding seed of the best modern varieties and landraces. After hunting on the internet for months one cannot find enough regular seed to start a small breeding program or even get small farmers started in production. When a site seems to be a real farm it is actually a distributor and they don’t take credit cards requiring instead that you send a BLANK money order or take bitcoin or pay pal. We need to get this industry under control by involving public institutions, educating ourselves, working together, and following age old rules of plant breeding, using least toxic pest controls, incorporating certified organic production, and using cultural practices that build the soil nutrients and biology

      On a more personal note, I use cannabidiol (CBD) myself for severe back pain, what a miracle, just ice packs and 25mg of CBD isolate three times a day, no opiates. My records contain two spread sheets full of maladies, but I continue to stay active even doing small variety trials in my gardens, just pumping up those endorphins.

      There are a number of varieties such as Ringo’s Gift that produce up to 21% CBD and THC below 1% with a target CBD:THC ratio of at least 5:1. These cv’s, of which there are at least several, are not available, period. High THC varieties (above 21% THC) that have powerful effects as well as cv’s like Gorilla Glue #4 and Girl Scout Cookies ( unmeaningful names) are not even available as feminized seed. Clones of high quality varieties are also unavailable. One called Ultimate Purple shines above the rest as a structurally strong, vigorous, productive, medical variety available as clones but the distributor took it off the market and not one out of 6 varieties tested this year has near that potential.

      Finally, we are trying to get high CBD cv’s into Jamaica. $2.1 billion dollars worth of high CBD marijuana was shipped to Canada for extraction in December of 2118. The highest CBD is about 14% in Jamaica I think. Fertility seems to be the key to terpene development. Marijuana in Jamaica is mostly organic by default which means that no fertilizers or chemicals have been used on the soil. We are looking at fertility, genetics, and a horticultural trick to stop the plants from blooming in the tropics until they reach a certain size before starting to bloom.

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