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Tiptoe Through The 25,000 Tulips, But Watch Out For Cannabis Plants In Wisconsin's Capitol Building Garden

Maureen Meehan
May 19, 2024

Cannabis plants interspersed with thousands of tulips all sprung up together in the garden in front of Wisconsin's state capitol building to the surprise, or delight, of many passersby. Authorities say it was not the result of someone haphazardly tossing a few weed seeds into the colorful tulip patch, which is a popular spring tourist attraction.

More than 25,000 tulips spectacularly spring to life, en masse, in the gardens surrounding the Wisconsin state Capitol.

Tatyana Warrick, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Administration, told The Associated Press in an email Friday that workers removed the cannabis plants but that she and her agency couldn’t quite figure out if they were marijuana or hemp.

Botanist Weighs In

University of Wisconsin-Madison botanist Shelby Ellison, who examined the plants before they were removed, told local TV station WMTV that they were cannabis plants. But then she told AP that she couldn’t say for certain whether they were marijuana or hemp. Hemp and marijuana are the same plant, with a major difference being that hemp is a mixture of male and female cannabis plants and its flowers produce less than 0.3% THC. Hemp plants also tend to be taller and contain more fiber in their stalks.

But Ellison did confirm the obvious: someone planted them intentionally. "It was just a large number of plants for it to be anything accidental," she said.

NIH Weighs In

Naturally, the weed plants were all ripped out and destroyed. Interestingly, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study concluded several years ago that cannabis cultivation can directly contribute to soil erosion and has the ability to absorb and store heavy metals.

But, alas, Wisconsin is among the very few U.S. states where cannabis remains illegal in all forms, though Gov. Tony Evers (D) has been a vocal advocate of legalizing medical and adult-use marijuana. Assembly Republicans introduced a bill in the last session that would have legalized medical marijuana, but they couldn’t gather enough support for the measure to even get a hearing.

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin state capitol

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