Righting the wrongs of the War on Drugs is in full gear in Arizona. According to an August 30 press release, the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County granted 3,643 petitions for expungement of cannabis-related charges since the process started last month.
The court announced that following the passage of Proposition 207 in 2020, an average of 650 people per week are filing petitions with the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County to have felony cannabis-related convictions wiped off their records.
“The Law Library Resource Center worked hard to ensure the forms and instructions are easy to complete for customers seeking to expunge their felony marijuana conviction or arrest record. They can download the forms and instructions for free on our website and follow the instructions for the remainder of the process,” said Paula Collins, administrator of the Law Library Resource Center.
The Superior Court in Maricopa County’s Law Library Resource Center, among many organizations throughout Arizona, is helping with the expungement process, has posted all the necessary forms that petitioners can find online as well as instructions on how to complete the process.
If a court grants a request to expunge a cannabis-related criminal charge, three things could happen: the case file and police records will be sealed, the conviction and sentence will be vacated along with any outstanding court debt imposed in connection with the expunged charge, and the defendant’s civil rights will be restored in terms of cannabis-related charges.
To see what offenses are eligible, visit the website.
Before filing a petition for expungement, people should check with their respective court. In the event that the conviction was adjudicated in a justice or city court, that court should be contacted for more information. If the case was resolved in the Juvenile Department of Superior Court, there is a separate juvenile petition to expunge. Anybody who has been arrested but not charged will need to file a civil petition to expunge the record.
“Customers can also schedule an appointment on our website to visit any of the Law Library Resource Center location and purchase the packet if they are unable to download and print the forms,” Collins added.
A fee is not charged for the petition to expunge the conviction.
Arizona Court Decisions Under Proposition 207
Proposition 207 which passed with 60 percent of the vote in favor of legalizing cannabis, also included a 16 percent tax on sales that helps fund community colleges, public safety, public health programs and roads and highways.
The cannabis conviction program was launched last July 13. Under the program, Arizona residents with convictions for possessing, transporting or consuming 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis—no more than 12.5 grams can be a cannabis concentrate or extract—are eligible to have their records expunged.
People with convictions for possessing, cultivating, processing or transporting up to six cannabis plants at their primary residence are also eligible. Expungements are also available for convictions for possessing, using or transporting paraphernalia related to the consumption, cultivation and processing of cannabis.
Assistance is also available from several organizations including the cannabis advocacy group Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), which has been offering expungement clinics through its Project Clean Slate initiative.
A similar initiative, Proposition 205, failed to be approved in 2016. It would have legalized adult-use cannabis with tax revenue going to the Arizona’s school system.
In Maricopa County, prosecutors took the lead early on in enacting the legalization of cannabis as mandated by the people through Proposition 207. Following the bill’s approval in November 2020, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office began filing motions to dismiss charges in pending cases covered by the initiative,
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.