Prop 207 could have huge impact on criminal justice reform in Arizona

Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 5:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - We are learning more about how Proposition 207 will impact our criminal justice system.

The proposition legalizes recreational marijuana in Arizona and will become official when election results are certified in about a month.

Steven Scharboneau, Jr. is an attorney with the Rosenstein Law Group.

“Arizona is one of the only states where a drug conviction for marijuana is a felony conviction, so it has life-lasting implications," Scharboneau said.

Scharboneau said he knows what it is like to have a felony on your record.

“I have a felony conviction that will never go away. To go through the process to become an attorney to go through the character and fitness process, I had to go through a four-hour hearing with a panel," Scharboneau said.

Adam Trenk is a Rose Law Group partner and director of the firm’s cannabis law department.

“I think it’s really a big deal and a really big step for our state," Trenk said.

Trenk said Prop 207 is really the first of its kind.

“Historically we would, we being the state’s court systems, would seal records, but they wouldn’t necessarily expunge records," Trenk said.

Starting July 12, 2021, people previously convicted of select marijuana offenses can petition to have their records expunged. Essentially, this will give people a clean slate, which is what Scharboneau said his work is all about.

“If we really work hard to make the laws more fair so people can actually have a fair chance at that second chance," Scharboneau said.

Scharboneau connected with the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, a prisoner advocacy organization.

Rebecca Fealk, the Legislative Policy Coordinator there, said the group is working to get the word out about this measure and the impact it will have on criminal justice reform.

“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," she said. “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."

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