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PHOENIX – Phoenix-area home builders are heading for a disappointing end to the year, according to a survey that shows a decline in home starts.
The recovery of home prices in Arizona appears to have all but stalled.
PHOENIX -- Prosecutors in three Arizona counties are using new figures on where teens now get their marijuana to lobby against making the drug legal for all adults.
Prosecutors in three Arizona counties are using new figures on where teens now get their marijuana to lobby against making the drug legal for all adults. But the data may not be as clear-cut as it seems.
PARADISE VALLEY -- Fred DuVal and Doug Ducey finally found something Tuesday on which they agree.
Neither wants to divulge whether they ever inhaled.
The question arose on the heels of state Rep. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson, saying he will introduce legislation this coming session to allow for the recreational use of marijuana. Orr said Arizona needs the money. And he said a legislatively crafted program is better than having voters enact one at the ballot in 2016.
DuVal said he's willing to consider such a plan after studying the experience in Colorado and Washington.
And what of his own personal knowledge about the drug?
"Look, guys, let's focus on the important issues for our state,'' the 60-year-old candidate said when questioned Tuesday following a debate. "I want to focus on the issues that really matter.''
So does that non-denial mean yes?
"I've answered the question,'' he responded. "Let's focus on the things that will matter to our future.''
Ducey, a decade younger than DuVal, said he is against both what Orr wants and the 2016 initiative. But he was equally dismissive of the question of his own drug use.
"I'm opposed to the legalization of marijuana and that's where I stand,'' he said, as press aide Melissa DeLaney sought to lead him away from reporters.
Fred DuVal and Doug Ducey finally found something Tuesday on which they agree: Neither wants to divulge whether they ever inhaled.
Rep. Ethan Orr wants Arizona lawmakers to legalize marijuana, saying the state needs the money and it's better than an initiative proposal. (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)
PHOENIX -- Saying the state needs the cash, a first-term Tucson Republican lawmaker wants to legalize marijuana -- and do it before it ends up on the 2016 ballot.
Ethan Orr said he believes a Colorado-style law here could generate upwards of $250 million a year in tax revenues. He said the state, heading into a budget deficit, needs the cash.
But Orr said there's another reason for lawmakers to act: a proposed 2016 ballot measure.
He said if that is passed, it is virtually impossible to make changes if it turns out there are problems. By contrast, Orr said anything approved by the Legislature can be amended by the Legislature.
The proposal drew a sharp rebuke from Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, who is also running in the same legislative district. She said the timing -- a month before the general election -- is suspicious as she, Orr and Democrat Randy Friese face off for the two available seats.
But this isn't Orr's first foray into the issue of marijuana.
Last session he sponsored legislation designed to allow the use of state dollars, obtained from medical marijuana users and dispensaries, to study the effects of the drug. That measure was approved by the House but killed in the Senate.
Timing aside, Steele said that, as a substance abuse counselor, she cannot support anything that has the possibility of making marijuana more easily available to teens, even if the law were designed to limit its purchase to adults.
The proposal is getting a decidedly chilly reception from Republican gubernatorial hopeful Doug Ducey who would be in a position to sign or veto the bill if it ever got to his desk.
"As the father of three boys and the son of a cop, he thinks it's a bad idea,'' said spokeswoman Melissa DeLaney.
But Democrat Fred DuVal appears open to the idea -- but just not yet.
"Fred wants to wait and see what happens with the states that already moved to legalize recreational marijuana,'' said Geoff Vetter, his press aide. "There's a lot of things we're still learning and Fred wants to discover all the consequences of legalization before moving in that direction.''
But the Marijuana Policy Project, which got voters in 2010 to approve a medical marijuana law, is not about to drop its plans for 2016.
Chris Lindsey, the group's legislative analyst, said Orr's proposal is "not surprising'' given what he said has been the success of legalization in Colorado.
"We applaud Rep. Orr for taking a stand for a more sensible law,'' Lindsey said. But simply introducing a bill is far from a guarantee of getting a hearing, much less the measure making its way onto the books.
"For the time being, while we wish the representative and his legislation every success, our plans to place a measure before voters in 2016 has not changed,'' Lindsey said.
Orr's plan is a direct extension of that 2010 initiative when voters decided that those with certain medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation could purchase up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from state-regulated dispensaries.
Since that time the state's finances have deteriorated.
The current projection is Arizona will end this budget year $520 million in the red if lawmakers have to reset state aid to schools to where it would have been had they not ignored for several years a requirement to consider inflation. And for the coming year the deficit is projected to exceed $1 billion.
Orr said the experience in Colorado shows legalization can work.
"All of the apocalyptic predictions made have not come true,'' he said.
"You have not seen an increase in the hardcore drug usage of things like heroin and cocaine,'' Orr said, or any increase in arrests for disorderly conduct. "But what you have seen is an increase in tax revenue.''
Potentially more significant, Orr said, is the chance that the 2016 initiative might pass.
He said this means Arizona law will be crafted not after careful consideration and debate by lawmakers but instead go to voters as a take-it-or-leave-it plan. Worse yet, Orr said, is the Arizona Constitution precludes virtually any change by lawmakers in voter-approved measures even if problems develop.
"This is going to happen,'' he said.
"Is it going to happen in an intelligent way because my colleagues chose to act like leaders and do what was right for the state?'' Orr continued. "I guess another way of putting it (is), are we going to govern or are we going to be governed by the initiative process?''
"I don't think we should have it either way,'' responded Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall. "We don't need another highly addictive substance available to adults or adolescents.''
LaWall acknowledged that what Orr is proposing would be only for adults. But she said its greater availability will make it more accessible to teens.
"Research shows it has a devastating and damaging impact on developing brains and can lead to life-long addiction,'' she said. "Among other risks, marijuana impairs thinking, leads to poor educational outcomes and lowered IQ, and increases a teen's likelihood of dropping out of school.''
And LaWall said even assuming marijuana sales could be limited to adults, legalization sends the message that it's use is somehow OK.
Steele said Colorado residents are having second thoughts. In a poll last month by Suffolk University and USA today, about half of residents surveyed said they are not happy with the law and how it is being implemented.
"And in Colorado, we're seeing since this has happened, that the use of marijuana among teenagers is 39 percent higher than the national average,'' Steele said.
But another report raises the question of whether any of this is related to the 2012 law.
A report released by Healthy Kids Colorado found that in 2013, the first full year the drug was legal for adults, 20 percent of high schoolers admitted using marijuana in the prior month and 37 percent said they had used it at some point in their lives.
By contrast, the 2011 survey found 22 percent who admitted to use in the prior month and 39 percent to sampling it.
But along the lines of LaWall's concern of acceptance, the same survey said the percentage of students who perceive a moderate or great risk from marijuana use declined from 58 percent in 2011 to 54 percent two years later.
Steele said her concern is for those children.
"I do think that adults have the right to make that decision,'' she said.
"But I'm a substance abuse counselor,'' Steele continued. "And I have dealt with so many people who started their drug and alcohol addiction in their teenage years, starting at 11 and 12.''
Orr said he has never used marijuana. And he agrees that, at least for teens, the drug should remain off limits for recreational use.
"In high school I saw it fundamentally destroyed some of my friends' lives,'' Orr said, who started with marijuana and, having decided that illegal drug use is OK, moved on to other substances.
This isn't the first foray by lawmakers into the area of legalizing -- or at least decriminalizing -- marijuana for recreational use.
John Fillmore, then a Republican representative from Apache Junction, tried in 2011 to make possession of up to two ounces a fine of no more than $200. When that failed, he tried a scaled-back measure the following year, with a $500 fine for possession of up to an ounce.
That also failed.
Just this past session Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, tried total legalization and recreation but could not get a hearing for his measure.
Much ado has been made of the real estate market in Arizona over the last decade. From good times and “McMansions” to a terrible rock-bottom scenario after the real estate bubble disaster, it has been a long ride.
A University of Arizona doctor who was pushing for more research into medical marijuana is being let go — she believes for political reasons.
The state's top environmental officials asked legislators Tuesday to repeal the restrictions they placed on his agency just four years ago prohibiting it from regulating “greenhouse gases.”
Supporters of doing more to prevent child abuse and neglect before it occurs said Tuesday they are having to accept on faith that there will be more money for that — later.
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There are many factors that affect housing inventory levels and pricing. One factor on the Valley’s real estate market is cash buyers. However, these cash buyers are losing their enthusiasm for the Phoenix area. Cash purchases during the first quarter were about 3,500 for local homes, but plunged 38 percent from the same period last year, according to research by Fletcher Wilcox, vice president of business development for Grand Canyon Title Agency Inc. Those 3,500 cash purchases also made up 28 percent of all Valley home sales during the first quarter. That is significantly down from the 38 percent market share claimed by last year’s cash buyers.
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PLACE NO. NAME SEX AGE TIME MPH CAT DIV CITY, ST
Here is the 2014-2014 Chandler All-District girls basketball team as voted on by the Chandler district's coaches:
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Rep. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson [Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services]