City of Fresno to join county in regulating marijuana gardens

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno City Attorney James Sanchez advised the City Council they do have some regulatory power. "We certainly can provide some restrictions in terms of security, location, those kinds of things associated with it."

Citing the recent shooting death of a man police say was stealing pot from a backyard garden in Central Fresno, City Council Member Henry T. Perea said regulations are a matter of public safety. "People are getting killed over these medical marijuana gardens. We need to address it and make sure our neighborhoods are safe."

Local medical marijuana advocate Rick Morse agreed pot plants can be a temptation, but said it was up to the police to keep the thieves away from this legal crop. "It's like waving 100 dollar bills on a tree and asking people to be honest. It's not gonna happen. Until the season is over I expect the city to protect these groves."

With the legality of the county ordinance forcing marijuana to be grown indoors in question, Eric Wardell, a local medical marijuana advocate urged the city council to be careful, especially in light of Prop 19, the measure on the November ballot that could legalize marijuana use and growing for anyone over 21. "You're overstepping your bounds. We vote in November and it will be legal statewide, so don't go stepping on somebodys toes between now and then."

But Perea said the city was not trying to ban pot. "The debate is not whether it's legal. The debate is over how to make it safer."

The public seems to agree gardens are a risk. An exclusive Action News Poll by SurveyUSA shows only 43 percent of those surveyed think outdoor marijuana gardens should be allowed. 53 percent say they should be against the law. But, at the same time, the survey shows 69 percent of those polled in Fresno County think pot should be legal for medical purposes. Only 25 percent do not.

The joint City-County ordinance regulating the growing of medicinal marijuana is expected within 45 days.

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