On election day last week, Arizona residents voted to legalize adult-use cannabis. On Monday, the prosecutor’s office of the state’s largest county apparently took heed and announced that all pending and unfiled weed charges will be instantly dismissed.
Proposition 207, nicknamed the “pot prop,” passed with 60 percent of the vote. In addition to legalizing marijuana, the newly approved measure also allows prior weed-related convictions to be expunged.
In an official statement, the Maricopa County’s Attorney’s Office (MCAO) declared, “Instead of continuing to spend resources on these cases, this office will begin implementing the will of the voters immediately.”
Deputy attorneys have been instructed to start dropping cases right away. “If there are other felony charges the case will remain pending,” the MCAO said, “but we will file motions to dismiss the charges covered by Proposition 207.”
At present, 6,000 cases are on the docket that include a count covered by Prop 207. There are also 3,500 outstanding bench warrants; 1,400 filed charges awaiting a determination of probable cause; and 1,000 charges that have been submitted but not filed. Additionally, there are 180 cases currently in trial that include charges covered by Prop 207. All of these cases are set to be reviewed with an eye on dismissal.
The MCAO said that priority will be given to anyone in custody and to cases that currently have court dates. “We have to review each [case] individually, and expect to find that most of those can be dismissed,” the MCAO said in a follow-up statement. “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.”
Following Maricopa’s lead, Yavapai County prosecutors announced on Tuesday morning that they, too, will also dismiss pending weed charges.
Marijuana possession will be legal next month in Arizona after the election results are certified. Sales are expected to begin in May 2021.