HIRAM — A 54-year-old man was arrested Thursday afternoon after being charged with cultivating 70 marijuana plants.

James Patrick Gardner, of Notch Road, was released from the Oxford County Jail on personal recognizance bail. Under his conditions of release, Gardner must not use illegal drugs or alcohol and submit to searches.

A resident told the Maine State Police during the Fourth of July weekend that Gardner was growing marijuana on and around his property. The matter was assigned to Deputy Chancey Libby of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.

Police found 23 cloned seedling marijuana plants, between one-and-a-half and two feet in height, growing near a vegetable garden. Another 47 plants, between four- and five-feet tall, were found growing on the property of a vacant neighboring residence.

Investigators also found clothespins with marijuana residue on them in Gardner’s basement and living room. Clothespins are commonly used to dry marijuana.

Gerry Baril, supervisor of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Western District Task Force Office, said Libby currently works as a special agent assigned full time to the MDEA through the Justice Assistance Grant.

The taller plants were about a month away from budding, and it was estimated that the buds would have yielded a total of three to five pounds of marijuana valued at $7,500 to $12,500. Baril said the agency makes low yield estimates when marijuana plants have not budded.

Baril advised that anyone who finds marijuana growing in an open area should not take the plants but report their location to police.

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