Arizona Appeals Court Rules that Some Convictions for Cannabis Sales are Eligible for Expungement

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that some cannabis distribution convictions are eligible for expungement under the state’s adult-use legalization law.

Full story after the jump.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that some convictions for cannabis sales are eligible for expungement under the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization law, AZ Mirror reports. In the unanimous opinion, Judge Brian Furuya reversed a previous ruling from a Maricopa County Superior Court judge that denied expungement of a man’s 2014 cannabis sales conviction. The appellate court order forces the trial court to grant the expungement petition.  

The appellate judges concluded that, because transportation of cannabis is now eligible for expungement, and because transportation of cannabis for personal use has not been a crime in Arizona since 1987, voters must have meant to include transportation of cannabis for sales to be eligible for expungement.    

In a statement, Martin Hutchins, lead attorney and program manager for the Reclaim Your Future campaign, said the decision will allow people who have been convicted of cannabis sales “to mitigate the generational impact of their involvement with the criminal legal system, which affects Black and Brown people and people of lower socioeconomic status at disproportionate rates.” 

“Today’s decision is a great embodiment of the will of the Arizona voters who elected to undo the harms caused by the overpolicing of marijuana laws. There are many people who were charged with for-sale offenses before the passage of Prop. 207 even when they had minimal amounts of marijuana because other factors led officers to assume the person was some sort of dealer. The state and the cannabis industry is now making millions on marijuana sales, so it’s fortunate that people who were believed to have committed a sales-related offense can now benefit from expungement.” — Hutchins, in a statement, via AZ Mirror 

The case was brought on behalf of Ethan Sorensen who was arrested in 2014 for possession of about two-thirds of an ounce of cannabis and was charged with felony possession of cannabis for sale and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. As part of a plea agreement, Sorensen pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit possession of cannabis for sale, a felony, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor after he completed his probation.

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