County attorneys dropping all pending charges for marijuana possession following Prop 207 passage

The Attorney's Office for two Arizona counties have announced that all pending and charges for marijuana-related offenses will be dismissed. as a result of the passage of Proposition 207.

Maricopa County

On Nov. 9, officials with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced that the office is dismissing all pending and unfiled charges for Marijuana possession, as well as any associated paraphernalia charges, will be dismissed.

"Instead of continuing to spend resources on these cases, this office will begin implementing the will of the voters immediately," read a statement released by officials with MCAO.

Officials say they have instructed Deputy County Attorneys to file a motion to dismiss any charges covered by Proposition 207, and if those charges make up the entirety of the charges of the case, the entire case will be dismissed.

"If there are other felony charges the case will remain pending, but we will file motions to dismiss the charges covered by Proposition 207," read a portion of the statement.

According to preliminary statistics released by officials with the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry in October 2020, 100 people are currently in prison for drug possession involving only marijuana in Arizona.

On Nov. 10, MCSO officials released another statement, saying that they have a little less than 6,000 cases with charges that include a count covered by Proposition 207.

"We have to review each individually, and expect to find that most of those can be dismissed," read a portion of a statement released on Nov. 10. "However, a significant number will include other felony charges – meaning that the entire case will not be dismissed, only those charges covered by Prop 207.  Where the case is in the system does play a role in how we will deal with it."

In addition, MCAO officials say there are many other cases impacted by Proposition 207, including:

  • 3,500 bench warrants that include charges impacted by Proposition 207
  • About 1,400 charges that are in the preliminary hearing stage, defined as a case has been filed, but a determination of probable cause is pending
  • 1,000 charges that have been submitted
  • 180 cases that are in trial phase

Yavapai County

In a statement posted on the Yavapai Couinty Attorney's Office website, officials announced that the office will dismiss "all pending charges of possession of marijuana and any associated paraphernalia charges for conduct that is covered by Proposition 207."

"This will include all cases pending in Early Disposition Court, those pending trial, and those set for sentencing or probation violation hearings," read a portion of the statement.

Officials said they are choosing to dismiss all pending charges instead of continuing to expend resources on these cases, due to an expungement provision in Proposition 207.

The County Attorney for Yavapai County, Sheila Polk, has tweeted anti-Proposition 207 contents from her unverified Twitter page in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election.

Proposition 207 explained

Proposition 207 would let people 21 and older possess up to an ounce of marijuana or a smaller quantity of “concentrates” such as hashish, allow for recreational marijuana sales at licensed retailers and for people to grow their own plants.

The Smart and Safe Arizona Act also levies a 16% excise tax on pot, on top of the standard sales tax that goes to state and local governments.

The new excise tax could bring in $166 million a year and would go to community colleges, local police and fire agencies, local and state transportation projects and public health and criminal justice programs. Including state and local sales taxes, the Legislature’s analysts estimate $255 million a year in new revenue.

The measure is backed by the legal marijuana industry. Supporters argue it’s time to rescind Arizona’s punitive penalties on marijuana, test marijuana being consumed and cut down on crime associated with smuggling and illicit sales.

Opponents argue that legalizing pot will make workplaces less safe, increase teen drug use and fill the state’s roads with stoned drivers. They include social conservative groups, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and many Republican elected officials, including Ducey.

The Associated Press (AP) projected on Nov. 3 that Proposition 207 will be passed by voters. Marijuana will become legal in Arizona when the election results are certified in about a month. Retail sales could start in May.