Medical marijuana greenhouse going up 5 miles from AZ checkpoint - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Medical marijuana greenhouse going up 5 miles from AZ drug checkpoint

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AMADO, AZ (CBS5) -

Nestled on a plot of land just off Interstate 19 in Amado sits about a half-dozen homes.

Paige Wells calls the property peaceful.

"It's quiet, and we all get along good," said Wells.

But the mesquite trees that once provided privacy have been stripped from the ground by a new neighbor. Now stakes mark the spot where a pair of 50,000-square-foot medical marijuana greenhouses will be built.

"People are driving down our road and turning around and going back just because they want to see where it's at," said Wells.

Wells runs the ranch next door. It's an operation that's been in her family for more than 70 years.

She told CBS 5 News the folks in the neighborhood were blindsided by Santa Cruz County's sale of the land.

"We never heard anything. We're residential. If you want to put something like that in the sticks, I guess that's what Arizona says you can do, but this is right in the middle of a residential area," said Wells.

Mark Steinmetz is one of the operators of Nature's Medicines.

"I think it was just an acquisition of land that made sense," said Steinmetz.

He said the main reasons they picked the property had to do with acreage and elevation. As far as the drug enforcement checkpoint just a few miles down the road:

"I never really thought about it," said Steinmetz.

The greenhouse will be the company's first venture in growing cannabis. Steinmetz wants to assure neighbors that the new facility that will sit in the center of the I-19 drug smuggling corridor will be very secure. For starters, there will be a 10-foot wall.

"There will be lights, cameras, actual physical guards. We'll have guard dogs," said Steinmetz.

Dennis Tucek owns Amado RV and Self- Storage just a few hundred yards away.

"I feel it's a good thing," said Tucek.

He said he's never had any serious problems at the business but likes the idea of a few extra eyes in the area.

"I'll get to know those guards, and we'll talk together, and we'll watch over each other's place," said Tucek.

For the people who live there, all the security makes it sound more like a prison. Wells questions how effective the guards will really be.

"How do we know there won't be cartel problems too? They don't have to bring it across now. They might want to break in and get it," said Wells.

Steinmetz said that's not a problem he's worried about and that he and his partners' goal is to be a good neighbor.

"We're certainly going to be listening to what our neighbors are looking for and try to accommodate them as best they can," said Steinmetz.

Construction on the greenhouse is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

CBS 5 reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to see if medical marijuana grown at the facility would be taken if it went through the checkpoint.

Officials sent us this statement:

"CBP is a federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws and is required to confiscate any illicit contraband encountered."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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