Madera neighbors worry about medical marijuana grow

MADERA, Calif.

Madera Police say they have their hands tied with this one, at least for now.

Miguel Flores is worried about his 6-year-old daughter, Savannah. He fears she's being exposed to the smell of marijuana plants growing just over his backyard fence.

Flores said he worries about safety since the grow is right across the street from an elementary school. "That's the biggest issue, the school and the kids," Flores said. "If something happens, if they get robbed... it's a big if but still it's a possibility something can happen."

Flores is not alone, his next-door neighbor, who also cares for Savannah, said she wonders what will happen if crooks ever try to steal the plants.

"The part about the growing marijuana doesn't bother me," Etta Wisener said. "I worry about what they're going to do to protect it. If somebody tries to steal it are they going to use guns or call the police, I mean how do they guard it."

After some consideration, Flores took his complaints to the Madera City Council. A tall fence placed in the neighbor's yard is the result of a police investigation following that meeting. Madera Police told Action News during that investigation detectives determined the grow is legal.

Flores said the fence is not enough. "I don't think Madera is stepping up to the plate. Maybe because we're a smaller town and we don't have the experience Fresno does," said Flores.

Action News talked to the people growing the marijuana. They declined to talk on camera, but did allow Action News access to see the plants.

Madera Police said the grow is perfectly legal, since the home has medical marijuana cards.

For now, the city's hands are tied since there is no city code outlining geographical boundaries for these types of legal grow operations. Madera currently follows state law, which doesn't have location restrictions.

But, city council member Andy Medellin said that can soon change. "We will be looking into those ordinances on those boundaries as far as within a couple hundred feet of schools, churches and parks," Medellin said over the phone.

Madera Police Chief Michael Kime said he's working to find a better way to manage medical marijuana grows within city limits. So far, the city council has nothing related to this issue on its agenda.

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