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Foes of recreational use of marijuana, including some Casa Grande groups, are conceding they can’t stop a 2016 vote on the issue.

Seth Liebsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, said he has no reason to doubt a claim by supporters they already have gathered 50,000 signatures on petitions.

That’s about a quarter of what they’ll need, as verification is likely to eliminate a fifth or more of the 150,642 valid names needed. And supporters, who are paying circulators, have until July 7 to reach their goal.

Instead, Liebsohn said his group, which he organized with Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, has been doing its groundwork in hopes of softening up support for the measure to follow the lead of Colorado, Oregon and other states to regulate marijuana like alcohol: Make it legal for adults and tax it.

“We haven’t started the ad campaign yet,’’ he said. “But I don’t think there’s a week goes by when one of us isn’t giving one or two or three presentations.’’

Frank Davidson, president of the Casa Grande Alliance Board of Directors and superintendent of the Casa Grande Elementary School District, said that both the alliance and the school district have grave concerns about broadening the laws governing the use and possession of marijuana.

The district works with the Casa Grande Alliance and with other substance-abuse prevention efforts, he said, to communicate to students that alcohol, tobacco, narcotic drugs, marijuana and other dangerous drugs have harmful effects. Legalizing marijuana would send the wrong message.

“We are seeing far too many students exposed to harmful drugs,” he said, “and the message that we need to be sending to students is that these types of substances have very harmful effects on their bodies and on their ability to function effectively.”

Davidson said he suspects that the people behind the legalization effort are not concerned with the health and welfare of students. 

Casa Grande Alliance Executive Director Breanna Boland said the alliance recognizes that substance abuse is a major public health threat. 

“We will continue to raise awareness and educate the community regarding the risks and harms of marijuana use,” she said, adding that the alliance will offer educational marijuana trainings to businesses, clubs and organizations.

Read the full story here. 

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