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Dozens of cannabis plants discovered near Helsinki apartment building

Officials in Helsinki are testing samples of what appeared to be some 30 cannabis plants found growing outside an apartment building in the city. One of the plants had reportedly grown a meter tall before anyone noticed them.

File photo. Image: YLE

More than two dozen plants which appear to be cannabis were found growing by an apartment complex in Helsinki's Etelä-Haaga neighbourhood. Nobody seems to know how the plants got there, and a researcher says tests are being carried out to see whether the plants contain the psychoactive component found in the illicit form of cannabis.

Authorities want to see whether the plants contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the main active components found in the illegal variety of the plant.

Fred Stoddard, a fibre hemp researcher at the University of Helsinki says the plants are definitely cannabis, but it remains unclear what variety they are or how they got there.

Many varieties of cannabis plants - also known as hemp - do not contain mind-altering substances, and have been used for thousands of years in the production of rope, fabric and other materials.

Stoddard says that without testing it is impossible to know what the plants found in Etelä-Haaga actually are, saying that officials are also carrying out tests.

Not likely intentional

Samuli Lehti, who's in charge of park workers at Stara, the city's maintenance company, says he doesn't think the cannabis was planted intentionally.

Lehti also works in the area, and says that the seeds from which the plants grew may have been hidden the in mulch or soil brought to the area by the truckload.

Lehti says it is fairly common to find hemp plants growing around the city, saying another patch of cannabis was found in Haaga nearby - although that one turned out to be a planned crop.

On the other side of the city, in the eastern Helsinki's Vuosaari neighbourhood, Lehti says someone had planted cannabis in flower pots owned by the city.

"But the plants found [in Etelä-Haaga] were not likely planted intentionally. The plants are out the open, visible to all," Lehti says. On top of that, cannabis plants do not thrive outdoors in this climate, he explains.

Police: "Trample on them"

Helsinki Police Inspector Lasse Jortikka says that cannabis or hemp discoveries like the one made in Etelä-Haaga do not come to the attention of police often.

"This is the first time this year," Jortikka says, and agreed that it is unlikely the cannabis was intentionally planted.

He advises members of the public who find cannabis or hemp to trample the plants.

"Don't try smoking it; you never know what kind of plant it is and what it contains," Jortikka warns.

A representative from the housing cooperative responsible for the yard where the plants were found says they have no idea where the plants came from, and vowed to weed them out as soon as possible.

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