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LAGUNA BEACH : Potted Plant Doomed as Case Closes

No one knows if it’s Panama Red, Acapulco Gold or some other exotic variety.

So call it Laguna Green--and the center of attention at the Laguna Beach Police Department for the past four weeks.

Under the assumption that a confiscated seedling was the only evidence in a marijuana cultivation case against two Laguna Beach 18-year-olds, Sgt. Ray Lardie carefully nurtured the 3-inch plant in a pot on his file cabinet, watered it daily, kept it carefully placed so radiant light wafted in from the window, and ignored the friendly ribbing from his colleagues.

He even sought help from a “Marijuana Growers Guide,” which also sits on the filing cabinet, helping prop up the pot.

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But the district attorney’s verdict came in Friday morning. Case closed, no charges would be filed, although not for lack of evidence.

“If we could have proven who planted it and who was responsible for it, we would have had a case,” Lardie said. “It’s still cultivation no matter how big it is. But that was the district attorney’s decision.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Fulton, the man who made that decision, said marijuana cultivation is rare in South County these days. But it carries a felony conviction if it’s proven the weed was intended for sale.

In this particular case, the small plant would have led to a much lesser charge, probably a fine and probation, he said.

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Fulton’s decision also pretty much determines the future of the lonely plant, Lardie said. He insisted he felt no attachments for the little seedling.

“I’m afraid it doesn’t have much longer,” he said.

The pot plant was the only survivor of four plants that were confiscated from a closet in a Club Laguna residence Aug. 18. A loud party had drawn the officers to the home and a glowing grow light had led them to the closet.

The two teen-agers were booked and all four plants were confiscated but the three others died, Lardie said.

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“I really don’t have a green thumb,” he admitted.


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