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Jun 13, 2013 8:54 PM by Erika Flores

Group works to legalize marijuana, others fight against it

TUCSON-A group in Arizona wants legalized marijuana for recreational use and that's worrying substance abuse groups.

James Merkle, a medical marijuana card user said marijuana helps with his knee pain.

"There are just many many benefits to cannabis," said Merkle. "I've found through my use of cannabis, I was seriously able to limit my use of alcohol consumption and now for the last two weeks, I'm proud to say I'm alcohol free."

Merkle and Robert Clark are with Safer Arizona, an organization pushing for the legalization of marijuana.

They believe everyone should be able to use it medically and recreationally.

According to the Pew Research Center 52 percent of Americans believe marijuana use should be legalized, but there are plenty of organizations like Amistades who work very hard to prevent recreational marijuana use and they believe any legalization of it would do more harm than good.

Amistades works with youth in Pima County trying to discourage them from using drugs at an early age including pot.

"I just know the troubles that I've seen it cause for other people," said Jeannette Moreno.

Moreno said she's seen loved ones abusing it and that's motivated her to work with Amistades to prevent others from going down the same path.

"Think about how it would affect the children, how it would affect youth and what kind of message its sending to them," said Moreno.

Moreno is afraid legalizing marijuana for adults would increase availability to minors.

"It doesn't matter what age limit you put on it, people younger than that age are going to have access to it, and they're still going to be able to use it," said Moreno.

Clark said their goal is to allow people the right to use it responsibly and reduce the stigma for medical marijuana users.

"I own my body. No one else does. It should be my choice," said Clark.

"Safer Arizona" needs close to 260 thousand signatures to get the measure on the 2014 ballot.

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