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How to Tell If You Have Found a Pot Plant

By Dawn Gibbs ; Updated July 21, 2017
The marijuana plant is easy to identify.
Cannabis image by William Dillingham from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Pot is an informal name for the cannabis or marijuana plant. Cannabis sometimes occurs in the wild as the hemp plant, but its psychoactive variety produces marijuana, a controlled substance, and growing it is a federal crime. You can follow these steps to determine if a plant you have discovered is in fact a pot plant. If it is, contact your local law enforcement and report it.

Examine your surroundings. Pot plants can survive in every state, but the illegal nature of the plant makes them uncommon in the open. If you&#039;ve found a plant that you think may be marijuana growing in someone&#039;s garden, it&#039;s probably not pot. The plant is most common in abandoned fields or forest clearings.

Measure the plant&#039;s height with a tape measure. Full-grown pot plants can reach up to 13 feet in height. If the plant you&#039;ve found is taller, it&#039;s probably not pot.

Examine the stem of the plant. Marijuana plants have fibrous or woody stems. They are thick and do not droop. Pull on the top of the plant to see if the stem snaps easily. A pot plant&#039;s stem should not snap under light pressure. Wear gardening gloves when handling the plant.

Count the leaves on each branch. Pot plant branches terminate with palm-like leaves with five to seven fingers on each leaf. They are a vivid green with sawtoothed edges, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Look for buds or flowers. Pot plant flowers are no larger than 1/4 inch long. If the plant you&#039;ve found has longer flowers, it&#039;s not a pot plant.


About the Author


Based in Richmond, Va., Dawn Gibbs writes about topics such as history, fashion, literature, crafts, alternative medicine and healthy living. Her work has appeared on GreenDaily.com and several style websites. Gibbs holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Virginia Commonwealth University.