New teachers at an Australian school were given anti-cannabis pot plants as a welcome gift by the country’s Education Department.
Instead of marijuana, the teachers at Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory were given thyme plants in the pots, ABC News reported on Monday. The promotional item was part of a plan to encourage users to grow thyme and seek help in case of cannabis addiction and garner further information about marijuana’s side effects.
“I thought it was a bit of a joke,” one teacher, who did not want to disclose his/her identity, told ABC News.
“I thought it was a teaching resource — that was my initial thought — to use with the kids.”
“But hopefully my students aren’t that addicted.”
Australian Education Union NT president Jarvis Ryan said the plant was an “odd” inclusion.
“On the surface, it strikes me as a particularly unusual thing to include, it’s a bit unclear what message it’s trying to send.”
Australia made an announcement in early January that it was legalizing overseas exports of cannabis products for medical uses. Its Health Minister Greg Hunt said he wants Australia to be the “world’s number one supplier.”
In Australia, sales are limited to medicinal use in the country only.
The Education Department, meanwhile, said the scheme was an “innocent mistake.”
In a statement, the Education Department clarified that it provided the new teachers with a welcome pack which included information about the department itself and details about several community organizations, businesses, and government agencies.
“One of the items included in the pack was a drug awareness message containing a small five-centimeter pot and thyme seeds,” it said.
“The item was provided by the Department of Health and is designed for the general community, not specifically for teachers.”