Vandals destroy North County hemp crop

By Karen Velie

A long-time Templeton farming family has been left devastated after they were targeted by apparent anti-hemp criminals.

On Sunday evening, vandals on all-terrain vehicles rode up and down rows of hemp plants destroying the crop worth more than $250,000. The vandals spent about a half hour crushing the two acres of Temple Farms’ crop.

“We are not big ag, we are locals here,” Ryder Nesbitt said. “Several families were depending on the proceeds from this crop.”

For 44 years, members of the Nesbitt family grew commercial flower crops on their Templeton farm. But after the bottom fell out of the flower market, the family switched to hemp.

Last week, the state tested the crop to ensure the amount of THC is at or below the legal level for hemp.

Even though marijuana and hemp are both members of the cannabis family, they have different properties. Marijuana plants produce THC, the intoxicant in pot. Hemp is used to produce paper, cloth and CBD, an ingredient used in supplements, extracts and oils.

Nesbitt had recently struck an arrangement with a buyer to purchase this years crop. Next week, Nesbitt planned to meet with the buyer to seal the deal.

While at the site, the vandals destroyed property, but it appears they did not steal any plants.

“This is more about anti-hemp than theft,” Nesbitt said. “We are trying to do it right, and we just keep getting stepped on.”

After discovering the vandalism, Nesbitt contacted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department which has mounted an investigation.

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