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Billionaire Poker Enthusiast Guy Laliberte Detained In French Polynesia For Growing Marijuana

Cirque du Soleil Founder Questioned In French Polynesia For Growing His Own Marijuana

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Billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil and poker enthusiast Guy Laliberte was detained in French Polynesia for growing cannabis on his private island.

According to a report from ABC News, the 60-year-old Canadian turned himself into police Tuesday and was detained for further questioning about his marijuana habits.

Last week, authorities detained another man on drug charges and found pictures on his cell phone showing Laliberte’s personal stash.

His own company confirmed in a statement Wednesday that he was being held in Tahiti and was being investigated “for alleged complicity in cultivation, possession and use of cannabis.” The company described Laliberte as a “medical cannabis user” who grows the plant “for his personal use only.”

Laliberte grew his own marijuana at his estate in Nuketepipi, a tiny atoll in French Polynesia. According to the territory’s laws, growing cannabis for any reason is illegal.

The founder of the One Drop Foundation was released on Wednesday without being formally charged of a crime. His company said in a statement that he denies any rumors that would associate him with the sale or trafficking of controlled substances.

Laliberte founded One Drop in 2007 with a mission to help impoverished areas of the world gain access to clean water. It does most of its work in Central America, India and West Africa.

In 2011, Laliberte teamed up with Caesars Entertainment to hold poker tournaments that would help the foundation achieve its goals. At the 2012 World Series of Poker, the first $1,000,000 buy-in Big One For One Drop was held.

Antonio Esfandiari won the event for $18.3 million. The tournament raised more than $10 million to help further the foundation’s goals. Laliberte finished fifth in that same event for $1.8 million. The score represents the bulk of his $2.53 million in tournament earnings.

Before Black Friday crushed the online poker market, Laliberte was a fixture in some of the biggest games online, specifically the ‘Rail Heaven’ games on Full Tilt, which was a $500-$1,000 no-limit hold’em game. Estimates from High Stakes DB claim that Laliberte lost $35 million battling against the best in the world.

Laliberte sold Cirque du Soleil in 2015 to several different companies. He has an estimated net worth of $1.37 billion.