Advocates criticize low numbers of marijuana conviction expungement in Arizona following Prop 207

Under Proposition 207, a recreational marijuana legalization initiative that was passed by voters during the November 2020 election, people can get their records wiped clean of felony marijuana convictions.

Months after the initiative was approved, efforts are underway to give more people a fresh start.

The Maricopa County Superior Court has granted just over 3,600 petitions for expungement since July, with low-level offenses being eligible for expungement.

"The more information they have, the more thorough your application is, and hopefully the quicker they can go through the process," said Paula Collins with the Law Library Resource Center.

The court has the resources for people to start the process for free, but it's so far been on the person with the charge to be proactive.

Marijuana advocates say the numbers so far are too low.

"They’re abysmal. They’re nowhere close to where they need to be," said Julie Gunnigle, a former candidat efor Maricopa County Attorney who is now with the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (AZ NORML)

Gunnigle says they estimate 250,000 to 500,000 people in Arizona are eligible for expungement, and if she could, she would go back and rewrite Prop 207 to make it automatic.

"What we've been finding is people have been coming to us at our clinics and saying 'I thought this as already done. I saw the news reports on July 12, expungement went live. Why was my case not expunged?’ and we have to explain to them that the pretty pictures they saw of county attorneys signing off on expungements that day didn’t apply to them. They still have to jump through hoops to get this done."

Those seeking expungement should check with the court where their original case was heard for more information.

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