Dozens of cannabis plants found growing in Vt. Statehouse gardens

  • A cannabis plant found on the Statehouse grounds. (Photo courtesy of Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei via VtDigger)

Published: 7/12/2019 9:56:37 PM

MONTPELIER — The Capitol Police got an unusual call on Monday: Someone had planted cannabis on the Statehouse lawn.

A thorough review found 34 plants mixed in among the flowerbeds in front of the building. But as for whether the plants were actually marijuana or hemp, Police Chief Matthew Romei said the plants are too young to tell.

“At this age of plant, you can’t tell from visual inspection; you have to do the test,” Romei said.

But police won’t be running tests. They don’t see a point, Romei said, since they wouldn’t be pressing criminal charges anyway.

No one knows who did the planting, Romei said, noting that security camera footage would be next to impossible to sort through, given the thousands of people on the lawn for a July 3 parade and fireworks.

“And this literally could have been just somebody walking down and dropping seeds,” Romei said.

He said it’s happened before, though that was before his time at the Statehouse, and he knows it could happen again. But he’s not too worried, even if it does.

“It is legal after all,” Romei said. “I mean, it’s certainly not legal to grow like that. It has to be done on private property, secured from public access, and you can only have four immature plants and two mature plants. … We would rather people not do it on state property. But quite frankly, it’s also not something that we’re going to put a lot of effort into.”

Romei said his department looks at the incident as a blip on their radar, and a “kind of funny” one at that — though the incident has been covered by media outlets including CNN and the Associated Press and reported first locally by WCAX-TV and WPTZ-TV.

“(Buildings and General Services) does such a wonderful job of maintaining these flower beds,” he said. “You could plant a rotten piece of lumber out there and it would grow a pine tree.”

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