Pima County Attorney’s Office to drop pending minor marijuana possession charges

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 10:17 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County will begin dismissing certain marijuana charges when Arizona’s election results are certified on November 30th.

With nearly 2 million voters in favor of Prop 207, Arizona is taking steps towards decriminalizing minor possession.

“Pima County has been the most progressive county in Arizona,” said Amelia Cramer, the Chief Deputy Pima County Attorney.

Cramer says unlike some parts of Arizona, marijuana possession has been treated as a misdemeanor (instead of a felony) for decades in Pima County.

There’s also a diversion program.

“Law enforcement agencies exercise discretion and [do not] make physical arrests for possession of marijuana, but issue paper citations,” said Cramer. “If the individual who is issued the citation attends the class and provides a certificate, the charges are dismissed.”

Which means no stain on their record. Something Maricopa County resident, Erron Reid, is currently fighting for.

“I was dating my girlfriend about 5 years ago,” said Reid. “We were sharing the car with each other. She has an MMJ card, she left some in the car on accident. Driving back to El Paso I got pulled over, they found it, and they charged me for it. So, we’ve been fighting this for a really long time.”

Under Prop 207, Reid’s case could be dismissed.

Plans are also in motion in Pima County.

“In addition to not prosecuting cases going forward, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall is prepared to dismiss any pending diversion cases or prosecutions,” Cramer said.

When the election results are certified, up to 1 ounce of marijuana will be legal. 1 to 2.5 ounces will be considered a petty offense, which the Pima County Attorney’s Office doesn’t prosecute.

“I do know that a quick look this morning at some of our diversion cases indicated that we would have some that would be dismissed, so they are under that threshold amount," Cramer said.

Law enforcement may still issue citations for possession more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana. That’s when the diversion program will step in.

As for Reid, these changes are welcome.

“Oh man it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a sense of relief. There’s that burden, that frustration that was lifted off my shoulders.”

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