Templeton cannabis grower accused of violating agreement

By KAREN VELIE

Shortly after negotiating an agreement not to grow cannabis outdoors for 20 years, the owners of an indoor marijuana grow in Templeton applied for and received a permit to grow 15 acres of industrial hemp, a cannabis strain.

On March 26, Jamie Jones of Kirk Consulting negotiated a settlement agreement with Ian McPhee to drop his appeal of a proposed mixed indoor and outdoor marijuana cultivation project on York Mountain Road. In exchange, Frank Ricigliano and Laura Gardner, Jone’s clients, agreed not to grow cannabis outdoors for at least 20 years.

Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) and marijuana (Cannabis Indica) are two varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp is rich in CBD, a non-psychoactive compound currently touted as a treatment for epilepsy and seizures. The other strain, marijuana, has higher levels of THC, a psychoactive drug.

On May 30, Ricigliano applied to the County Agricultural Commissioner for a permit to grow 15 acres of hemp. The county approved Ricigliano’s application, and he planted hemp on his property.

After discovering the apparent contract violation, on June 17, McPhee’s attorney Tim Carmel contacted Ricigliano’s attorney Roy Ogden.

In a phone conversation about the alleged contract violation, Ogden argued hemp does not fall within the county’s definition of cannabis, according to a June 18 cease and desist letter Carmel sent to Ogden.

“That the County is inconsistent in its regulation of the different species of the cannabis plant is irrelevant,” Carmel wrote in his letter. “The scientific name of hemp is Cannabis Sativa and no rational argument can be made that hemp is not cannabis.”

The California Health and Safety Code 11018.5 refers to industrial hemp as “a crop that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa.”

In his letter, Carmel gives Ricigliano 10 days to remove the outdoor hemp grow or face legal action.

“Please advise your clients to immediately cease and desist cultivating cannabis outdoors on the Property, to include removal of any and all species of cannabis that have been planted outdoors, within 10 days of the date of this letter,” Carmel wrote. “In the event that they do not comply, Mr. McPhee is prepared to pursue all remedies available to him at law and equity.”

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