Changes in the laws to recreational and medical cannabis use In Canada have changed the rules when it comes to cultivating and enjoying your own crop of homegrown weed too. Unfortunately the rules vary from province to province and in some cases even town to town as places around the country are slow to catch up to the advance of progress.
The war on drugs zero tolerance approach to intoxicants that dominated public consciousness in the 80s & 90s has left a permanent stain on the idea of cannabis in the minds of many people. There are still a lot of over-concerned nosy neighbours, bossy know-it-all Karen’s and even uninformed officers out there who may find reason to harass a private citizen based on the suspicion that they are growing unauthorized cannabis plants on their property.
Many are the tales of innocent folks getting an unexpected visit from an RCMP officer because a neighbor or friend mistook a plant on their property or in their home for a cannabis plant and decided they had to report it. This might seem absurd to those of us familiar with cannabis and the new rules and regulations in Canada but it does happen a lot more often than you might think!
Plants That Resemble Weed
Information and education are always our best tools in the battle against general ignorance and misunderstanding so let’s shed some light on some of the common plants found in many people’s gardens and homes that are frequently mistaken for cannabis plants by people who don’t know enough about the subject or about minding their own beeswax!
Even though in most places in Canada it is now legal to grow up to 4 or 5 personal cannabis plants on your property many municipalities have added stipulations to the law requiring the plants to be out of view of the public. This leaves many people who live in apartments or without a private space on their property out in the cold when it comes to growing their own bud. And worse still this means even if you aren’t growing cannabis you might still be subject to a report and inspection because of someone mistaking one of these common plants for a marijuana look alike.
To illustrate this point let’s consider a recent online scandal that occurred when Ferrari made posters to advertise the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. It was right on the edge of widespread national recreational legalization and either by sly intention or innocent mistake the design for the poster features many Japanese Maple leaves. The Japanese Maple leaf bears a striking similarity to the cannabis leaf so much so that people were sure that Ferrari has either used the wrong maple leaf by mistake or that they were knowingly winking to the cannabis community that legalization was coming. Make of that what you will!
Japanese Maple is just one of many common leaves and plants that look like marijuana but have no psychoactive properties of their own and are not controlled substances. Despite the innocent nature of both the cannabis plant and these non psychoactive natural substances many people with less information than they need and more time on their hands than they should have could still try to make an issue of it if they were to encounter one on your property or in your home.
What Does Weed Look Like?
To understand all the differences between plants that look like weed and actual varieties of the cannabis plant you should first be able to properly identify actual cannabis. So what does a marijuana plant look like? There are two distinct types of cannabis plant under which all other varieties of the plant fall known as the female and male versions. Male cannabis plants are tall and bare with typically sparser amounts of the trademark green leaves and none of the big flower buds that cannabis lovers all adore. Female varieties of the cannabis plant are the ones that produce the smokable buds and are much more dense with many more of these trademark leaves surrounding clusters of pungent cannabis flower when the plant is mature.
When a cannabis seed is first planted unless you are certain of the gender beforehand there is no way of knowing which of the two your plant will be until after six weeks of growth have passed. At this point the plant transitions from what is known as the vegetative state into the flowering stage and small pre-flowers develop which reveal the gender of the plant. If they are male tiny round bulbs or balls will appear and if they are female the plant will develop longer pistils coated in tiny white hairs.
As only the female variety of the cannabis plant produces the bud that we all love to smoke so much growers tend to only desire female plants. When buying seeds more often than not you will only find pre-sexed female seeds but this is something to be wary of when you are shopping for potential seeds or plants to start your own little cannabis garden!
Plants That Look Like Cannabis
But what about if you just have an ordinary garden and you don’t want to worry about a case of a marijuana look alike plant potentially causing you some trouble – or perhaps you just want some similar plants to keep your cannabis plants hidden from some nosy neighbours – what plants that look like cannabis should you know about? Now that you have the answer to “what does a pot plant look like?” let’s take a look at some of the potential imposter plants.
We already touched on the leaves of the Japanese Maple tree and their incredible similarity to the cannabis leaf but several other types of plant vaguely resemble cannabis plants just enough to spark the curiosity or displeasure of the wrong person and invite unwanted trouble into your life. The Coral Plant is a close second when it comes to imitating cannabis leaves but it is rare to see in gardens here as it is a tropical plant found primarily in Mexico and South America.
Okra is more and more common in kitchens and gardens these days however and the leaves of the plant do bear a very vague resemblance to a cannabis leaf which could give someone the wrong impression. It even flowers with buds that could easily be mistaken for cannabis by someone who only knows enough to look for these two elements but not the way they should actually appear.
Cranberry Hibiscus is an unlikely contender to be honestly mistaken for cannabis as it is entirely the wrong colour and doesn’t flower with bud but if I’ve learned anything in life it is that people will always surprise you with new and fascinating ways to not understand simple things. The shape of the leaf is undeniably similar to the cannabis leaf and it is entirely possible it could be mistaken for it in low or dark light.
Cassava is a different kind of medicinal plant that is grown for its roots. One of the more helpful plants that look like weed but it is non psychoactive and the roots are actually highly poisonous until they are properly treated. Sweetfern is an invasive weed and as far as plants that look like marijuana goes it is a bit of a stretch but anything is possible with a green leafy plant that has even the slightest resemblance to cannabis plants.
Cleome, Texas Star Hibiscus and Kenaf are three more green leafy plants that resemble weed at least a little bit and you might want to avoid them if you would rather avoid all of the possible potential complications.
Real Canadian Medical Pot
If all of this seems a little silly and over the top to you consider the fact that people have reported having police show up at their homes even going so far as to engage in searching the premises all based on the fact that a neighbour or relative tipped off law enforcement to the fact that they suspected that cannabis was being grown on the property illegally.
Even though many places in Canada are currently allowing citizens to grow and enjoy their own cannabis plants on their own property this privilege has not been extended to absolutely everyone. Many restrictions are in place from one province or town to another limiting how many plants can be grown and where they can be grown – most often restricting them from view from the public.
This means anyone without their own private space in their yard hidden from the view of their neighbours living in one of these places – which when you consider it includes quite a large group of people like those living in apartments or shared accommodation or temporary settings – remain unable to enjoy the newfound freedom more affluent Canadians are able to. Furthermore anyone with a cannabis plant or any of these plants on visible display is at risk of having someone report them and could find themselves dealing with a surprise visit from the RCMP!
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