City of Tucson to help 10,000 expunge marijuana criminal convictions

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:34 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When Arizona voters passed Prop. 207 in 2020, it wasn’t just about recreational marijuana.

Voters also wanted people who had been convicted of low-level marijuana offenses to have their records expunged.

There are about 10,000 people in the city of Tucson who are eligible for that right now, but only about 100 have taken advantage.

City leaders want to change that.

“As it stands now, people have a criminal record for something that is no longer a crime,” said Ward 3 city councilman Kevin Dahl. “It’s incredible. There are 10,000 people who are affected by this.”

Next week, the council will hear a presentation by the City Attorney Mike Rankin, who will explain the process and how the city will reach out to those who are eligible.

For the city and for those who can have their records expunged, it’s an economic issue that can solve a lot of problems.

“Problems getting housing, jobs, grants to go to school,” Dahl said. “We need more people to get housing and we need to get more workers, it’s hard to hire people.”

There’s also a new state law that will be discussed at the council study session. It went into effect on Jan. 1 and will allow people convicted of some more serious crimes to have their records sealed.

People who have been convicted of things like burglary, DUI or identity theft may have their records sealed, but not expunged.

It may give those who have paid their debt to society a second chance.

“A lot of the crimes I would be concerned about being sealed that involve guns, violence, and children are not eligible,” Dahl said. “So that made me feel a little better.”

The council is not required to take any action on either proposal. It’s information only.

But since getting in touch with more than 10,000 people is impossible for the city staff, Rankin said he will propose a working relationship with students at the University of Arizona law school.