A tipoff on July 8 led the Vermont Capitol Police to discover 34 cannabis or hemp plants growing in the Vermont Statehouse flowerbeds in Montpelier, Vermont. The growth is most likely due to an illegal technique called guerrilla gardening—which consists of secretly sprinkling unwanted seeds on another property or a public property. Guerilla gardening allows nature to run its course, letting cannabis grow in the wild.
Thirty plants were first discovered near the capitol building, then four more plants were eventually found. Police still aren’t sure who is behind the stunt, especially since the flowerbeds are tended to regularly. “The beds are maintained—as you can see—very well by Buildings and General Services,” Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei told CBS affiliate WBNS. “They really know how to run a flower bed. It’s an impressive display every year but I don’t think they included this in their annual rollout.”
The police didn’t initially test the cannabis, so they don’t know if its THC content is low enough to be considered hemp. “We were kind of surprised,” Romei added. “I don’t think anyone was expecting to find that. Of course we still don’t know whether its marijuana or hemp and, quite frankly, don’t intend on spending the resources to test it because there’s not a criminal case to be had over it.”
It’s not the first time an incident like this has happened to the Vermont Statehouse. According to Romei, there have been similar discoveries in the flowerbeds in previous years. The news cycle could lead to more copycat guerrilla gardening pranks.
In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis via the state legislature instead of through a ballot proposal like most other states. Adults 21 and over are allowed to legally grow with two mature plants and four immature plants, but it must be grown in private and on private property.