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Arizona prosecutors drop hundreds of marijuana prices as legalization takes impact | Leafly

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PHOENIX — Prime prosecutors within the overwhelming majority of Arizona counties are dropping all present possession of marijuana instances now {that a} new voter-approved legalization regulation has been certified.

An Related Press survey of county attorneys acquired responses from 13 of 15 elected county attorneys, all of whom mentioned they have been both instantly dropping present instances or in a single case pausing prosecutions and planning to drop them when Proposition 207 goes into impact. (County attorneys have been surveyed in mid-November. Prop. 207 formally went into impact on Nov. 30.)

Solely prosecutors in Graham and Gila counties didn’t reply to the AP inquiry, although KJZZ radio reported the Gila County Lawyer suggested regulation enforcement to cease charging adults with possessing small quantities of marijuana. These small counties comprise solely about 1.2% of Arizona’s almost 7.3 million residents.

The choices imply hundreds of individuals dealing with felony prices can have that report cleaned.

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Voters made it clear: No extra arrests

Prosecutors mentioned they’re dropping present instances as a result of that’s what Arizonans wanted.

“The vast majority of the individuals of the nice state of Arizona have spoken on this difficulty and this workplace will comply with the regulation, as created by the state’s residents,” mentioned Michael Whiting, the Apache County lawyer. 

Some prosecutors mentioned they’re performing now as a result of as soon as Proposition 207 goes into impact anybody beforehand convicted of possessing an oz or much less of marijuana can petition the courts to have their report cleared.

“Actually I believe the prosecutors are doing the proper factor, and doing what the voters supposed them to do,” mentioned Chad Campbell, chairman of the committee that backed the Good and Secure Arizona Act. “And it’s an enormous step ahead for felony justice reform right here within the state.”

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‘Folks don’t belong in jail’ for marijuana

Arizona was the one remaining state that allowed felony prices for possessing small quantities of marijuana, though most prosecutors normally filed the instances as misdemeanors and allowed defendants to enter a drug diversion program.

“People who find themselves non-violent offenders who get caught with possession of marijuana for private use don’t belong in jail, and the voters agree,” Campbell added. “That shouldn’t be a criminal offense anymore as evidenced by the 60% of the Arizonans who voted for this.”

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Some prosecutors already reforming

Some prosecutors have been much more lenient with marijuana instances, similar to Cochise County, the place County Lawyer Brian McIntyre mentioned his coverage was to permit individuals to get a medical marijuana card and make a $200 contribution to a drug rehabilitation program in trade for having the misdemeanor case dismissed.

“The nice for that’s $686—so if it’s costing you $150 to get your card and $200 for the donation, that’s already a considerable move, together with not getting the conviction,” McIntyre mentioned in an interview. 

McIntyre mentioned he’s dropping all present instances and has advised native regulation enforcement officers to instantly cease citing or arresting individuals for possession, as has the Pinal County lawyer.

Prohibitionists are following the brand new regulation

Some county attorneys consider the passage of Proposition 207 was a mistake, though they are saying they’ll comply with the desire of the voters. 

William Ring, Coconino County’s prime prosecutor, mentioned the Legislature and Ducey ought to have legalized marijuana as a result of they might alter the regulation if there have been unanticipated results. However as a result of Proposition 207 was a poll measure, it falls beneath a part of the state structure that bars lawmakers from making modifications to voter authorized legal guidelines.

“I can most definitely guarantee you that, as with Colorado, we is not going to like what we did to ourselves with this Proposition,” Ring mentioned in a prolonged e-mail response to the AP’s inquiry. 

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Maricopa County drops almost 6,000

Maricopa County was first out of the gate when the county lawyer’s workplace on Nov. 9 introduced it was stopping marijuana prosecutions. The state’s most populous county expects almost 6,000 instances to be dropped. Pima County Lawyer Barbara LaWall adopted.

Below the brand new regulation individuals 21 and older can legally possess as much as an oz (28 grams) of marijuana or a smaller amount of “concentrates” similar to cannabis and be capable to develop their very own crops. Possession of between 1 ounce and a pair of.5 ounces (70 grams) is a petty offense carrying a most $300 nice. 

Approval of the marijuana measure got here 4 years after Arizona voters narrowly defeated a leisure pot legalization proposal. 

Feds ‘have to resolve’ with a purpose to transfer ahead

Voters in New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana additionally voted to make possessing leisure marijuana authorized this month, becoming a member of 11 different states the place it was already authorized.

McIntyre, the Cochise County lawyer, mentioned the passage of such legal guidelines in some states and never others means it’s time for Congress to behave. Marijuana remains to be unlawful on the federal stage. 

“The federal authorities must decide—that is ridiculous,” he mentioned. “If they might simply act and never proceed to go away it to this patchwork framework with the states and see how issues go right here and there and elsewhere … then individuals would know and we might simply all transfer ahead directly. But it surely’s not occurring.”