Seeded Weed

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New Zealand officials say anti-vaccination protesters seeded cannabis during a three-week occupation. Information on Seed certification

After the Protesters Left, an Illicit Weed Began Growing in Parliament’s Garden

New Zealand officials say anti-vaccination protesters seeded cannabis during a three-week occupation.

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Anti-vaccine protesters left trash and other surprises outside Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, this month. Credit. Mike Scott/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

When anti-vaccination protesters finally cleared out of New Zealand’s Parliament grounds after a three-week occupation, they left behind a scene of destruction and disorder — the charred remains of a children’s playground, camping equipment and human waste, among other items.

This week, a man eating lunch in the Parliament garden spotted something else left behind by protesters — cannabis seedlings nestled among the brassicas and marigolds.

The unidentified man told Radio New Zealand, the national broadcaster, that he might not have “inhaled” back in university, but he had a “fairly good idea” what kind of plants were sprouting “just meters away from the debating chamber.”

The discovery prompted a swift operation by groundskeepers to find, uproot and destroy the plants sneakily seeded in the Parliament’s garden in the capital, Wellington.

“We are weeding out the weed,” Trevor Mallard, the speaker of Parliament, assured New Zealanders in a statement.

The discovery raised questions about what other surprises protesters might leave behind as a new anti-vaccination group took to social media to plan another protest for Friday.

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A representative for the grounds told the national broadcaster that “a lot” of marijuana seeds had been scattered around by protesters. Seedlings for cilantro, tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs were also left behind. The man who originally found the marijuana plants pronounced it “a shame,” and added, “The law is the law.”

In New Zealand, the possession and manufacture of recreational cannabis remain illegal after 53 percent of voters voted against legalizing marijuana in a 2020 referendum. In the lead-up to the vote, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to throw her support behind either side to avoid, she suggested, influencing the outcome. Later, she revealed she had voted in favor of legalization.

The protest over the country’s strict vaccine mandates lasted 23 days and attracted hundreds of people from across the country. The crowd grew to include conspiracy theorists and others who descended on the site to rage against various grievances. What began as a peaceful protest resembling a music festival ended in dramatic and sometimes bloody clashes with the police. Fires broke out. Protesters wielded fire extinguishers, paint-filled projectiles and other homemade weapons. Dozens of officers were injured.

Weeks later, relations between the New Zealand government and protesters against the vaccine mandate remain strained.

Last Wednesday, Ms. Ardern announced that the country would move away from its vaccine requirements and abandon other Covid restrictions, including ending vaccine passes in shops and other venues, even as the Omicron variant has caused widespread outbreaks.

But some groups are pushing for a complete end to those restrictions. A new anti-vaccine group announced plans to protest in Wellington on Friday, prompting workers to put up fences around Parliament and police officers to turn out.

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In the end, only a few people showed up to protest at a war memorial near Parliament. The rain had begun to fall — perfect for seedlings but not, apparently, for protesters.

Seeded Weed

To ensure that only good quality seed is sold in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Plant Industry routinely monitors and inspects a wide range of plant seed for “truth in labeling” and the prevention of the introduction of noxious weed seeds. Seeds for agricultural and turfgrass, vegetables and flowers offered for sale to farmers and homeowners are examined and tested to ensure that they meet the seedsmen’s claims as to germination, variety and weed content. Anyone engaged in the business of a wholesale seedsman or seed conditioner must register annually with the State Board of Agriculture.

The Seed Certification and Control program certifies high-quality seed and propagating material of superior crop varieties, grown and distributed to ensure genetic and mechanical purity, and a minimum of seed-borne diseases. An interagency certification system is also provided for maintaining the genetic and mechanical purity of certified seed when repacking or combining mixtures of kinds or varieties. Seed that does not conform to the requirements of the state’s seed law is subject to removal from the marketplace and the seller is subject to other penalties.

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