Next time a friend at the office asks you to take care of a potted plant, make sure the plant is not pot.

A government worker in San Francisco found out, the hard way, that Uncle Sam takes a dim view of Mary Jane (a.k.a. marijuana) at the office, or even in the parking lot.

Seems that the security people at the U.S. Mint spotted a worker putting a potted plant in the car of a coworker. The plant looked like pot, smelled like pot and turned out to be pot.

When security officials questioned the car owner about the leafy passenger in her car, the lady clammed up when asked how it got there.

The woman was advised that if she told who put the pot in her car she would be disciplined, maybe fired.

In a subsequent memo the woman denied in writing knowing who put the marijuana plant, worth about $300 in the wrong circles, in her car. About two weeks later she admitted that she did know who planted the pot, and said that the man asked her to deliver it to a friend.

The wheels of justice turned slowly. A few months later she was given a notice of 14 days suspension.

Mint officials said they take a dim view of drug activities at the factory which makes U.S. coins.

The woman argued that she did not know, at the time, which of two coworkers planted the plant in her back seat, so she was being honest when she said she didn't know who did it.

A government arbitrator found merits, and demerits, in both sides' arguments.

He said while the woman was perhaps technically correct when she gave the first "I don't know" answer, he found it misleading because she apparently had a pretty good idea who planted the pot.

On the other hand -- a favorite phrase of arbitrators -- the arbitrator said the government had leaned a little too heavily on the woman, and did not show much vigor in pursuing the grower and planter of the plant.

He reduced the suspension to three days.

The plant was destroyed by the government, and the woman is now said to be much more careful about doing horticultural favors for friends.