New Zealand officials say anti-vaccination protesters seeded cannabis during a three-week occupation. Seed Crops Arizona produces many seed crops that are grown for planting and exported globally. These seed crops can be damaged by a number of pests and diseases that are monitored and inspected
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.
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.
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.
Arizona produces many seed crops that are grown for planting and exported globally. These seed crops can be damaged by a number of pests and diseases that are monitored and inspected for by the Plant Services Division. Their presence alone can be enough to disqualify a seed crop for export, or limit a product’s marketability.
Safeguarding Arizona’s seed production industry is accomplished through regulating commodities that are imported to Arizona that could harbor a dangerous plant pest and could potentially have a detrimental effect on the seed industry. Inspections and surveys for plant pests and diseases that could damage plant health and the marketability of a seed crop focus on a number of issues, like noxious weeds, insect pests and a variety of diseases. Some seed products that have been genetically modified must be approved by USDA-APHIS before being imported or exported. More information can be found the USDA-APHIS website. The Arizona Crop Improvement Association assists the Division in certifying seed products for export.
Depending on the state, there are certain requirements for seed quality standards and seed health. Seed quality standards are regulated by the Departments, Environmental Services Division (ESD) and health standards, like lettuce mosaic virus (under A.A.C. R3-4-233), are regulated by the Plant Services Division (PSD). For more information on selling or labeling seed in Arizona please contact ESD at (602) 542-4499.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I have to have my seed tested?
The answer to this is two-fold:
It is the law. Arizona and the Federal government both have laws outlining and regulating the way seed is to be sold in the state. The definitions and protocols are quite specific as to what is to be done, how it is to be done, and when it is to be done.
It is consumer protection. Anyone that goes into an establishment to buy seed needs to know that the seed in that package is what the labeler claims it is and that it will perform at a certain level. As a regulator it is our job to sample seed has it comes into the state and as it appears on the store shelves to make sure the public is getting what they are paying for.For more information, call (602) 542-0986.
Do I have to have a license to sell or label seed in Arizona?
Yes, you must have a license to either sell or label seed in Arizona.
Will the State Agricultural Lab test my seed for me?
The State Agricultural Lab (SAL) can test seed for the public but only if the seed will be exported out of the country. The majority of the seed testing done at SAL is regulatory samples obtained by ADA inspectors.