In what could be the most obvious -- and simultaneously unlikely -- of places, a marijuana plant sprouted and grew unnoticed for weeks right across the street from the downtown Tampa Police Department.
"The plant tested positive for THC," Tampa Police Capt. David Goodman said. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active chemical in marijuana.
Marijuana, growing wild in a large city of Tampa planter, with irrigation and a direct line of sunlight to boot.
Not only was it growing in downtown, it was growing on the busy corner of N. Franklin Street and Madison Street, right across the street from the Tampa Police Department building. Officers, detectives, attorneys, cleaning crews and all sorts of averages Joes from the homeless to business professionals passed the pot plant in the planter.
Not one noticed the leafy illicit drug growing, until Justin Grimes, 26, spotted the marijuana plant as he walked to lunch with his brother Tuesday and contacted Bay News 9. "Right across from the police station," he said. "Right in front of a drug pharmacy and with a Tampa cleanup crew walking all around it for the last hour and a half. That’s pretty funny to me. Nobody noticed it.” Grimes' brother is a Bay News 9 employee.
We pointed out the free-growing drug to citizens as they walked along the busy sidewalk.
“That’s interesting, isn’t it?" citizen Judi Nibbelink said.
“I am a little surprised that no one has noticed that this isn’t a tree. A regular tree or a regular plant," Michelle Gilbert said.
“That’s kind of weird man,” Dino Jones added.
Despite its proximity to the police department, Goodman said he doesn't believe a crafty citizen was trying to send a message or play a joke on Tampa Police.
“I don’t think anybody was trying to test our knowledge or see how much we were appreciating the city’s beautification efforts,” Goodman joked. “I think purely coincidence.”
In fact, Goodman found its proximity to another building more interesting.
"It’s outside a local pharmacy," he said. "Maybe this isn’t what they had in mind when they think of medicinal use.”
Goodman said he's glad citizens are being aware of their surroundings. He said he was glad the pot plant was found before the Republican National Convention and the organized chaos that coincides comes along in August.
“It could definitely have been a little embarrassing,” Goodman said. "I’m glad that whoever happened to notice this was a good citizen and brought it to our attention so we could take care of it.”
Goodman said the marijuana will be considered foul property and destroyed. A criminal case will not be opened.
“I suppose there could be a thousand explanations as to how it got there," Goodman said, "whether it’s through pollination or somebody decided to actually intentionally plant something there.”
Goodman said the young, small marijuana plant, only inches high, was not mature enough to produce a usable illegal drug.