Cannabis charges are eligible for record expungement as of July 2021! Efforts to kickstart expungement action has come primarily from local movements and non-profits such as Arizona NORML. The Prime Leaf is proud to partner with Arizona NORML and City Council member Steve Kozachik to bring more expungement clinics to Tucson!
Prop 207 & Record Expungement
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, cannabis dispensaries were deemed an essential business. The passage of Prop 207 in November 2020 affirmed the will of the voters and upheld the civil liberties of individuals to utilize cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. One of the pillars of Prop 207 is the expungement of minor, non-violent Arizona cannabis charges from individuals’ records. Expungement means that an arrest, court case, and conviction are wiped from your record. Expunging a cannabis charge creates more freedom and opportunity for employment, housing and the restoration of civil rights.
While the community holds a social responsibility to support and encourage expungement action, this is an issue that ultimately must be addressed beyond the efforts of individual dispensaries and non-profit organizations.
The War on Drugs, created under federal law, has impacted the lives of countless people – over 200,000 individuals in the state of Arizona alone hold expunge-able cannabis offenses. Funding was widely distributed to law enforcement to support arrests, detention and incarceration for those found in violation of federal cannabis laws. Now, in states like Arizona where cannabis has been legalized, the responsibility to take widespread action on record expungement must come from state and county governments with the same vigor, attention and funding that was given to criminalization campaigns.
New York has instituted an automatic expungement system with no filing, motions or any efforts on the part of the individual for many cannabis charges. A similar system is crucial in Arizona but this action will need to come from the state level. While cannabis has become a profitable business for many people, lingering cannabis charges continue to hold Arizonans back from employment, housing and other opportunities to move on with their lives.
Tucson Expungement Clinics
In the absence of legislative state action, advocacy groups like Arizona NORML are holding free expungement clinics around the state. However, as of Sept 30th, only 16 records have been expunged. Privacy concerns, timing, and transportation access play a huge role in the ability of folks to attend an expungement clinic. An automatic expungement system would drastically change this.
For now, free expungement clinics around the state offer individuals with previous minor Arizona cannabis convictions an opportunity to consult with an attorney about expunging a cannabis charge from their record. Attorneys will assist individuals about what charges can be expunged and assist with filling out a petition for expungement.
What to Expect
Upon arrival at an Expungement Clinic, you will be checked in and escorted to a licensed attorney. The attorney will help you fill out your petition for expungement. The process takes only about 15-20 minutes and you will leave with a petition for expungement in hand. Filing petitions can be done through the mail, at the courthouse or online, though mailing your petition is recommended. Check out the video below to learn more about this process!
The next Tucson Expungement Clinic will be held on Saturday, October 9th from 11-3pm. The clinic will be located at the Tucson City Council Ward 6 Office (3202 E. 1st Street). Head to arizonanorml.org/expungement for more info!