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Manteca woman fined $43K under grow ban

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POSTED March 27, 2014 1:20 a.m.

FRESNO (AP) — Fresno County supervisors fined two people $73,000— including a Manteca woman — for growing marijuana at homes under the county’s new marijuana cultivation ban.

The ban, which took effect in February, will result in fines of $1,000 per plant found on property or inside homes.

A man from the Kerman area, Bret Harmon, was fined $30,000 for having 30 marijuana plants in his garage. He did not show up for Tuesday’s hearing.

Phaeth Holapatiphone, 33, of Manteca, was fined $43,000 — $1,000 for each of the 43 plants found at her mother’s home west of Sanger. Her mother also can be on the hook for the fines through a property lien.

Holapatiaphone was cultivating marijuana in her mother’s backyard to treat her depression. She said she was on antidepressants, but marijuana helped her feel better. She said she grew marijuana because her mother didn’t want her going out on the streets to buy it.

Sheriff’s deputies “didn’t give me fair warning,” she told supervisors. “They talked to my brother one day and came back the next day to remove the plants.”

Holapatiphone said she was threatened with jail if the plants were not pulled.

Fresno lawyer Brenda Linder calls the fines “exorbitant.” She says she will seek a temporary restraining order to stop the county from continuing to go after small-time growers.

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