King’s Garden is one of the most recognized brand names in the California cannabis marketplace. The state-licensed, 250,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility and manufacturing plant based in the Coachella Valley area of Southern California recently made headlines when the company filed a civil lawsuit in Riverside County against the founder Michael King’s brother, Paul King—who calls himself the “Cannabis King.”
The lawsuit was filed this week by King’s Garden Chairman and CEO Michael King, Chief Operating Officer Charles Kieley and Chief Financial Officer Lauri Kibby. The suit alleges that defendant Paul King—Michael’s brother—falsified documents, filed a false police report, hacked into email servers and accounts of King’s Gardens investors, attempted to extort millions of dollars, and defamed his brother Michael’s character. Michael said there were misleading rumors about him, and links/posts containing false information spread through a hacked email that was sent to his entire contact list. And it’s not the only lawsuit Paul is dealing with.
“We just want to set the record straight, we don’t shy away from conflict; we don’t hide; we’re here to address it,” Michael King told DOPE Magazine during a brief Zoom interview. “We have a great name in the industry. We carry ourselves a certain way, and we’re proud of our company. If you google my name or the company’s name, you see nothing but great press. So we don’t take these attacks on our livelihoods lightly,” he said.
According to King, this all really hit the fan last week. But the problems with his brother Paul have been ongoing and escalating. “I’m not one to sling mud at people. I won’t start now, but this is embarrassing to have these headlines out there saying I’m suing my brother,” he said. “But, when cowards attack our brand, we’re going to take serious actions. We are pursuing all actions available to us civil and criminal to protect our company, our assets, our investors and their families, our employees and their families. There is a lot of money on the line here.”
According to several other news reports, Paul King is the CEO of Cannafornia Farms, a cannabis cultivation site in Salinas, California. Meanwhile, he is also being sued by two Russian investors for allegedly embezzling money and using business finances to purchase a personal property in Florida.
“I have to say, this is just an unfortunate situation where family members fight against each other,” said attorney Jason Buratti, who is representing Michael King and King’s Garden in the suit, which seeks over $100,000 in punitive damages. “In this post-COVID world, the timeline of when this will play [out] is hard to say, but I hope trial would start within one year, unless Paul decides he wants to come clean and do the right thing,” Buratti said. “He needs to take all those links and sites down immediately and take care of any losses that King’s Garden and their investors have had to deal with and if the court deems appropriate.”
Michael expressed that he is adamant on protecting his business and all the employees, their families and all the company’s investors, management, board of directors and even customers. “Everyday is positive. We live our lives. This is just another thing we gotta deal with, but the company is doing great. Lots to be proud of and excited for … looking forward to, we will get over this bump in the road.”