Prosecutors in most Arizona counties will drop marijuana-related charges, even before the law that eliminates criminal penalties for possession of cannabis takes effect once Election Day results are finally certified.
Photo source: Unsplash
Recreational marijuana became legal on Election Day
On the Nov. 3 election, voters approved of the law. A recent Associated Press survey of county attorneys revealed that most would drop existing cases or pause prosecution as of now, and completely drop them by the time Proposition 207 is valid.
15 of the county attorneys responded to the survey and 13 of them said they would approve the motion. Only those in the counties of Graham and Gila didn’t reply, where 1.2% of Arizona’s residents live.
Marijuana-related charges will be dropped
The news joins a wave of positive moves in the marijuana industry for the state. Above all, thousands of incarcerated people facing criminal charges related to marijuana will have their records expunged.
Following the will of Arizonans
Newly-elected prosecutors claimed that this is what Arizonans wanted, as proved in the recent election. Apache County’s attorney, Michael Whiting, specifically said that the majority of the people in Arizona “have spoken on this issue and this office will follow the law, as created by the state’s citizens”.
Once Proposition 207 goes into effect, people with previous convictions for possessing an ounce or less of pot can request to have their records cleared.
It’s reported that on Monday morning, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs will certify the results of the election. These show that at least 60% of people voted to pass the measure in Arizona.
Arizona voters approved Prop 207, the Smart & Safe Act, allowing adults above 21 years of age or older to legally possess up to an ounce of weed or concentrates in smaller quantities.
On top of that, it establishes a special “social equity” license for the communities most harmed by former marijuana laws. Prop 207 will also impose a 16% tax on cannabis sales.
Once Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proclaims Prop 207 as law, possession of marijuana will become legal. When it comes to the licensing rules for retail sales, it’s all in the hands of the Health Services Department.
Arizona was the last state that allowed charges for possession of small amounts of weed. Most prosecutors filed the cases as small violations and allowed for rehabilitation into drug diversion programs.
Some county attorneys against Prop 207
As much support as Proposition 207 has gathered around the state, some county attorneys think it’s a mistake. Opponents say that they’ll follow the will of the people nonetheless.
The law was a ballot measure and it will become part of the state constitution, which means lawmakers can’t make changes to it.
Four years ago, Arizona voters declined a recreational pot legalization proposal narrowly. Arizona now joins New Jersey, South Dakota, and Montana in legalizing recreational marijuana on Election Day.