How has proposition 207 changed Arizona's Marijuana Laws?

How has proposition 207 changed Arizona's Marijuana Laws?

In the recent election, Arizona voters made history by approving recreational marijuana. Amongst all registered voters, 60% voted “yes” on the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

Come November 30, 2020, any person over the age of 21 will be able to possess, and use marijuana for recreational purposes.

Arizona joins 14 other states that have either legalized recreational weed, or voted to legalize it. This blog breaks down the basics of Prop 207, and what you need to know about its impact on other areas of law.

How will prop 207 affect Marijuana Laws?

As long as a person is over the age of 21, he or she can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, with no more than five grams in the concentrated form. A person under 21 who possesses, consumes, transfers, or transports less than a pound faces a $100 fine for first-time offenders. Prop 207 does not allow a person to smoke marijuana in public such as restaurants, parks or malls.

Additionally, adults can grow up to 6 plants at home as long as those plants are within a lockable area, and out of public view. Additionally, the storage of the plants must be able to prevent access to minors. If a household has more than 1 adult 21-year old, then up to 12 plants can be within the residence.

Work-wise, Prop. 207 appears to preserve employers’ ability to maintain and enforce zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policies. Smart Arizona employers are likely to examine their workplace substance abuse policies, and update them to address both recreational and medical marijuana in the workplace.

On the tax revenue side, Prop. 207 will bring a 16% excise tax that will fund the following entities:

  • 33.0% to community colleges;
  • 31.4% to local law enforcement and fire departments;
  • 25.4% to the state and local transportation programs;
  • 10.0% to public health and criminal justice programs;
  • 0.2% to the Attorney General for enforcement.

For a thorough fiscal analysis on Prop. 207, click here.

When Is Weed Legalized?

Legalization does not kick in until November 30, 2020, when Arizona formally passes Prop 207. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs must first certify the election. Certification comes after all ballots are counted, and validation of the outcome is completed.

Where Can I Purchase Marijuana?

There are around 130 operating dispensaries within the state today. Applications for medical dispensaries are opening in January, regulated by Arizona’s Department of Health Services. Still, Arizona dispensaries are able to sell recreational marijuana to adults until the department issues it a license.

However, no marijuana can be marketed to children. Products cannot look like animals, insects, fruits, toys, or cartoons. Additionally, edibles can only contain a maximum of 10 mg tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per edible, thus limiting a package of edibles to 10 mg of THC.

Will the State Dismiss Pending Marijuana Charges Because of Prop 207?

In at least two counties, yes. Both Maricopa and Yavapai County Attorney’s Offices have begun dismissing all pending marijuana charges covered by Prop 207. In Maricopa, that attorney’s office is instructing all prosecutors to dismiss cases with pending court dates and those defendants currently in jail. However, the policy will not affect felony charges.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, there are 100 inmates in state prisons currently serving time for only marijuana possession.

Does 207 Allow For Expungement?

Yes—for certain marijuana-related crimes. While Arizona does not erase a person’s criminal history, 207 allows Arizonans who have been convicted with possession, consumption, cultivation, and transportation to petition for expungement. Beginning July 12, 2021, any Arizonan with these convictions can petition a court for expungement of their criminal record.

This expungement provision is huge, because Arizona data indicates than over 10,000 people are arrested each year for possession of marijuana. In most cases, those people arrested are often placed into expensive drug treatment programs, and can prevent them from getting hired because of their arrest or conviction.

How Else Will Prop 207 Impact Arizona’s Criminal Justice System?

Marijuana was a drug heavily targeted during the U.S.’s War on Drugs campaign during the 1980’s. Yet, even after this era, Arizona still considered a marijuana conviction as a felony. This is still the law today. As such, these felony convictions have life-lasting impacts for any Arizona resident who must undergo background checks.

Rebecca Fealk, a Legislative Policy Coordinator with The American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, stated that her organization is working to get the word out on how Prop 207 may impact Arizona’s criminal justice reform. As she stated:

“If somebody had a marijuana conviction, they were often denied food stamps, they were denied Pell Grants to be able go to college and do these things that allowed them to be part of our community…And so by having the opportunity to remove those, we are allowing people to be more successful and remove the harm the criminal justice system has done.”

Final Thoughts

With the uncertainties and changes that Prop 207 brings, it is important to understand how legalized marijuana may impact you. It is also key to have an experienced attorney at your side if you face a non-marijuana charge. For a quick background on other drug charges in Arizona, click here.

If you are seeking an expungement as a result of Prop 207, or face other marijuana charges, visit Chuck Franklin, or call (480) 551 – 0407 for a free consultation.

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