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I planted what?! 74-year-old surprised at his cannabis crop

German police

Cannabis plants found in a German farmer's field in the southern state of Bavaria. The man said he hadn't realized what the plants were, police said.

A 74-year-old farmer in a small town in southern Germany planted more than 1,000 cannabis plants in the mistaken belief they were sunflowers, police told NBC News Wednesday.  

Alerted by worried locals, German police visited the man in Moembris, a town in the southern state of Bavaria, on Tuesday and told him to destroy the crop on his one-acre field. The man, whose name was not released, usually grows potatoes in the field.

The man told officers that he had scattered half a sack of old bird seed and was taken aback by the fast growth of the plants -- some of which were quickly as tall as 10 feet -- but still did not realize what they actually were.

"The friendly elderly gentleman was surprised at the strange plants that had grown next to the flowers but did not identify them as cannabis plants," a police statement said.

“The farmer promptly plowed up the field with the tractor under the watchful eyes of the police,” police spokesman Stefan Brabetz told NBC News.

In the press release, officials said that the type of cannabis was too weak to have intoxicating effect and could not have led to addiction.

Italian police have found a large cannabis factory in an abandoned metro tunnel built beneath Rome during the era of Benito Mussolini. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

“Nevertheless, the case is being presented to the local prosecutor’s office and a judge will have to decide whether formal charges need to be filed or not,” Stefan Brabetz said.

Under German law, it is a crime to “knowingly” grow cannabis.

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