PHOENIX — High prosecutors within the overwhelming majority of Arizona counties are dropping all current possession of marijuana circumstances now {that a} new voter-approved legalization regulation has been certified.

An Related Press survey of county attorneys acquired responses from 13 of 15 elected county attorneys, all of whom mentioned they had been both instantly dropping current circumstances or in a single case pausing prosecutions and planning to drop them when Proposition 207 goes into impact. (County attorneys had been surveyed in mid-November. Prop. 207 formally went into impact on Nov. 30.)

Solely prosecutors in Graham and Gila counties didn’t reply to the AP inquiry, although KJZZ radio reported the Gila County Lawyer suggested regulation enforcement to cease charging adults with possessing small quantities of marijuana. These small counties include solely about 1.2% of Arizona’s practically 7.3 million residents.

The choices imply hundreds of individuals going through legal expenses can have that document cleaned.

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Voters made it clear: No extra arrests

Prosecutors mentioned they’re dropping current circumstances as a result of that’s what Arizonans wanted.

“The vast majority of the individuals of the nice state of Arizona have spoken on this subject and this workplace will comply with the regulation, as created by the state’s residents,” mentioned Michael Whiting, the Apache County lawyer. 

Some prosecutors mentioned they’re performing now as a result of as soon as Proposition 207 goes into impact anybody beforehand convicted of possessing an oz or much less of marijuana can petition the courts to have their document cleared.

“Actually I feel the prosecutors are doing the proper factor, and doing what the voters meant them to do,” mentioned Chad Campbell, chairman of the committee that backed the Sensible and Secure Arizona Act. “And it’s an enormous step ahead for legal justice reform right here within the state.”

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‘Folks don’t belong in jail’ for marijuana

Arizona was the one remaining state that allowed felony expenses for possessing small quantities of marijuana, though most prosecutors normally filed the circumstances as misdemeanors and allowed defendants to enter a drug diversion program.

“People who find themselves non-violent offenders who get caught with possession of marijuana for private use don’t belong in jail, and the voters agree,” Campbell added. “That shouldn’t be against the law anymore as evidenced by the 60% of the Arizonans who voted for this.”

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Some prosecutors already reforming

Some prosecutors had been much more lenient with marijuana circumstances, comparable to Cochise County, the place County Lawyer Brian McIntyre mentioned his coverage was to permit individuals to get a medical marijuana card and make a $200 contribution to a drug rehabilitation program in trade for having the misdemeanor case dismissed.

“The wonderful for that’s $686—so if it’s costing you $150 to get your card and $200 for the donation, that’s already a considerable go, together with not getting the conviction,” McIntyre mentioned in an interview. 

McIntyre mentioned he’s dropping all current circumstances and has advised native regulation enforcement officers to right away cease citing or arresting individuals for possession, as has the Pinal County lawyer.

Prohibitionists are following the brand new regulation

Some county attorneys consider the passage of Proposition 207 was a mistake, though they are saying they’ll comply with the need of the voters. 

William Ring, Coconino County’s prime prosecutor, mentioned the Legislature and Ducey ought to have legalized marijuana as a result of they may alter the regulation if there have been unanticipated results. However as a result of Proposition 207 was a poll measure, it falls underneath a part of the state structure that bars lawmakers from making adjustments to voter permitted legal guidelines.

“I can most actually guarantee you that, as with Colorado, we won’t like what we did to ourselves with this Proposition,” Ring mentioned in a prolonged e-mail response to the AP’s inquiry. 

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Maricopa County drops practically 6,000

Maricopa County was first out of the gate when the county lawyer’s workplace on Nov. 9 introduced it was stopping marijuana prosecutions. The state’s most populous county expects practically 6,000 circumstances to be dropped. Pima County Lawyer Barbara LaWall adopted.

Underneath the brand new regulation individuals 21 and older can legally possess as much as an oz (28 grams) of marijuana or a smaller amount of “concentrates” comparable to cannabis and have the ability to develop their very own vegetation. Possession of between 1 ounce and a pair of.5 ounces (70 grams) is a petty offense carrying a most $300 wonderful. 

Approval of the marijuana measure got here 4 years after Arizona voters narrowly defeated a leisure pot legalization proposal. 

Feds ‘have to determine’ in an effort to transfer ahead

Voters in New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana additionally voted to make possessing leisure marijuana authorized this month, becoming a member of 11 different states the place it was already authorized.

McIntyre, the Cochise County lawyer, mentioned the passage of such legal guidelines in some states and never others means it’s time for Congress to behave. Marijuana remains to be unlawful on the federal stage. 

“The federal authorities must decide—that is ridiculous,” he mentioned. “If they might simply act and never proceed to depart it to this patchwork framework with the states and see how issues go right here and there and elsewhere … then individuals would know and we might simply all transfer ahead without delay. Nevertheless it’s not taking place.”