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marijuana bird seed

The birdseed, nearly 20 tons of it, has been locked in a Detroit warehouse since Aug. 9, when it was impounded by the United States Customs Service. The reason: The seed consists of sterilized seeds processed from industrial hemp.

Though the United States Government views hemp with suspicion, it was historically an agricultural staple used in everything from ropes and sails to clothing and the first American flag supposedly sewn by Betsy Ross. It has been virtually illegal since 1937.

Mr. Laprise has found himself mired in one of the more bizarre episodes of Washington's campaign to curb illicit drug use. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, though the Government rarely distinguishes between them.

Mrs Hewitson said: "I sent a picture in via email and I got a couple of interesting emails back, including one from the police.

"It's quite common for bird seed to contain a huge variety of plant seed and cannabis has been known to come up from it."

"We've been told we have to cut it up and either compost it, take it to the police station or take it up to the local recycling centre," Mrs Hewitson said.

After discovering it was an illegal cannabis plant the police were involved.

Cannabis is illegal to grow without a licence so Mrs Hewitson and her husband John were advised by Devon and Cornwall Police about what to do with the specimen.