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Southern Arizona advocacy group aims to help expunge weed-related crimes from records amid 4/20

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 7:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Most marijuana dispensaries had a line out the door all day on Wednesday, in celebration of 4/20.

This kind of turnout and publicly-celebrated holiday is fairly new to Arizona, as the state just voted to legalize weed back in 2020.

It’s all thanks to Proposition 207. Voters chose to legalize weed in the November 2020 election, known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. Not even two years later, Tucsonans can openly come out and cash in on those 4/20 deals.

“Yeah, 4/20 we’re very lucky to be in this. There’s still 12 out of 13 states that don’t have this,” Brian Ward, CEO of Prime Leaf in Southern Arizona, said about the holiday. He added that there is still a long way to go since Arizona legalized weed.

However, many people still sit with weed-related charges on their record. According to the Arizona Marijuana Expungement Coalition, nearly 550 people have been helped in just January and February alone.

Caroline Isaacs is with Just Communities Arizona, which aims to help people who have weed-related charges on their record.

″It’s really important for us to say we’ve learned from our mistakes. And we also need to make it up to those people who have been caught in that cycle for something that now, we finally figured out is not that big of a deal,” Isaacs said.

“Only just recently did we legalize the consumption of this substance. Prior to that like with most other drugs it is, there is a harsh punishment for even the lowest level of possession,” she said.

Isaacs also said for those wondering if it’s even worth it trying to get a weed-record charge expunged, it’s worth it.

“We recognize that a weed conviction is probably not the only thing on their record, and what we want to say to those people is that this is still worth your time,” she said.

You can learn more about the resources that are available when it comes to expunging your record here.

So far this year, Arizona has collected quite a bit of taxes on adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana. As of March 31, that amount exceeded $261 million.

After Proposition 207 passed, it required the state distribute about one-third of that money to community colleges, with the rest mostly to public safety departments and transportation, health and criminal justice programs.

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