Recreational marijuana is now legal in the State of Arizona, after the passing of Proposition 207 in November 2020. This was a history-making law for Arizona that decriminalized the use of cannabis – with certain restrictions – for people 21 and over. Prop 207 also changed things for anyone with pending marijuana possession charges, as well as Arizonians with prior criminal convictions related to marijuana crimes. It may be possible to have your marijuana conviction expunged in Arizona under the new law.
What Is Prop 207?
Proposition 207, also known as Arizona’s Smart and Safe Act, made Arizona the latest state to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana. It legalized the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of marijuana concentrate, as well as 6 marijuana plants per household (or 12 in households with 2 or more adults). It is now legal to purchase these substances from licensed shops and establishments in Arizona. Prop 207 went into effect on November 30, 2020.
What Does Prop 207 Do for People With Pending Charges?
In addition to allowing Arizona citizens to purchase, possess, grow and use marijuana without facing criminal consequences, Prop 207 also dismisses pending charges for these marijuana crimes. As long as the charges meet the definition of decriminalized activities under the Smart and Safe Act, the courts will dismiss them. If a defendant has other types of charges entered against him or her, Prop 207 will only dismiss those charges covered by the law.
When Prop 207 was passed, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office stated that it had about 6,000 cases and 3,500 bench warrants that involved marijuana charges that needed to be reviewed. There were also 180 cases with charges included in Prop 207 currently in the trial phase. The office said that it would give priority reviews and dismissals to defendants in custody and those with court dates. It also filed motions to dismiss all qualified bench warrant cases.
Proposition 207 and Record Expungement
Another major change that Proposition 207 made is to allow anyone with a qualifying marijuana conviction on his or her criminal record to have this record expunged. Record expungement refers to the erasure of someone’s criminal record, clearing it and sealing it from view by anyone except the individual and his or her attorney. Record expungement can give a criminal defendant a fresh start and make it easier to find housing and a job.
Record expungement is typically not something that is available in Arizona. Instead, state law allows a defendant to apply to have the record “set aside.” This does not erase the record, but it does show that the offender completed his or her sentence and had the conviction dismissed by a judge. Prop 207 creates a special exception where certain people are eligible to expunge all qualifying records of a marijuana arrest, charge, conviction and sentence, beginning on July 12, 2021.
How to Expunge a Marijuana Conviction Under Prop 207
People who qualify for record expungement under Prop 207 are those who have been arrested, charged, adjudicated or convicted of a marijuana offense involving less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, no more than 6 marijuana plants at a residence and/or marijuana paraphernalia. If you qualify for marijuana conviction expungement under the new law, consult with a criminal defense lawyer for assistance with the expungement process.
Your lawyer can help you prepare and submit the paperwork that is required to request record expungement. The criminal courts will review your record and either accept or deny the request based on the information provided. If your request is accepted, the records will be expunged and erased. If you have questions about expunging a marijuana conviction under Prop 207, contact The Law Offices of John Phebus to request a free consultation.