City employees in a small northern town in Wyoming were just doing their job when they realized their very normal task could carry with it felony charges. That’s because employees who had been watering the plants of Powell were inadvertently tending to the growth of a still-illegal plant.
On June 29, city employees realized they had been watering a marijuana plant growing amidst the pansies and spider plants for “some time”.
Roy Eckerdt, the city’s police chief, told The Powell Times that employees promptly plucked one plant and brought it to the police station, and they have responded to two more plants found within a few days. Eckerdt believes someone may have sprinkled the seeds in the city’s flower pots as a joke.
City Parks and Recreation Superintendent Del Barton said the plants were difficult for his staff to distinguish.
“To be honest with you, and to be fair, without having a marijuana field testing kit, I can’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana,” Barton told the publication. “But it sure looked like marijuana to me.”
To be fair, hemp and marijuana are very similar plants. Both are a variety of Cannabis sativa, one of three subtypes of the cannabis plant, but are different in a number of ways. For starters, hemp has such small amounts of the psychoactive THC ingredient that it can’t get you high; marijuana has as much as 30 percent while hemp measures in at just about 0.3 percent. Hemp was bred primarily for consumer and industrial purposes and is easier to grow outdoors in a range of climates, whereas marijuana has a much more sensitive growing cycle.
Oddly enough, Barton told The Billings Gazette that it wasn’t the first time a marijuana plant has popped up in city planters.
“We’ve had incidents in the past where, for some unknown reason, people decide to put pot seeds in the downtown – we have these large 100-gallon flower pots – and for some reason people like to put weed seeds in the flower pots,” Barton said.
Barton said police think there may be a few plants beginning to pop up and gave city workers brown paper bags in case they find more.
Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Wyoming and carries with it a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The Chief of Police says he can only speculate as to why someone would do this with their marijuana plants.
“My guess is that’s somebody’s sense of humor,” Eckerdt said, and because growing marijuana is still illegal here, “it could turn into an expensive prank.”