Vermont Capitol Police found 34 suspected marijuana or hemp plants growing in flower beds outside the State House this week, and officers have no idea how they got there.
Some of the plants were first spotted by a perplexed tourist Monday, and officers later found nearly three dozen of the plants growing between flowers outside the historic building, Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei said.
Romei said the flower beds are well taken care of, so it’s not particularly surprising that the suspected marijuana plants were healthy and growing quickly.
“You could plant a 2-by-4 piece of lumber in there, and it would grow into a palm tree,” he said. “So it is totally not surprising that if somebody would put some marijuana seeds in there, they would grow like weeds.”
Officers are not sure whether the plants are marijuana or hemp. Both are varieties of the cannabis plant, but hemp is grown with only 0.3 percent or less of THC, the compound that makes consumers high.
Romei said the plants would have to be tested in a lab to figure out whether they’re hemp or marijuana, but because there’s no criminal case, they’re not doing that.
Police aren’t actively looking for the person who planted the seeds, but Romei said they’d be happy to hear from that person if they’re willing to turn themselves in.
“If anyone wants to claim it and let us know why they planted it, we are happy to listen,” he said, warning that they would face criminal charges.
Vermont law does allow residents to grow their own marijuana plants, but it requires that marijuana be planted on private property, shielded from access and view.
“The State House Lawn certainly does not meet those standards,” Romei said.