Arizona voters are expected to pass Proposition 207 this November, which would make Arizona the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana use and possession for adults. If it passes, Phoenix’s next top prosecutor could be instrumental in upholding—or obstructing—the new law, including Arizonans’ petitions to expunge their past marijuana-related criminal records.
Julie Gunnigle is a Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Allister Adel for Maricopa County Attorney, The Appeal reported.
Gunnigle told The Appeal that she supports Prop 207 and is committed to creating an expungement process that “is both universal and automatic.” If Prop 207 passes, she would dismiss pending cases involving possession of less than one ounce of cannabis.
“On day one, I would dismiss every pending low-level marijuana case, and make office policy that no personal-use amounts of cannabis will be charged and [that] no objections will be filed when those convicted of such offenses move to set aside their convictions,” Gunnigle stated. “I will do everything possible to support people seeking to expunge old marijuana possession convictions.”
Gunnigle also stated that she wouldn’t prosecute any personal use cases involving marijuana concentrates (extracts), which have seen legality issues in the past because of former Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Unlike Gunnigle, Adel would not dismiss past marijuana possession cases.
Adel’s spokesperson stated that, “Proposition 207 is not retroactive” and “if it is to pass it will be the law going forward, and one that the office will follow and implement according to the letter of the law.”
Adel believes in a “treatment first” approach for low-level drug possession crimes. Therefore, she prefers defendants be sent into the Felony Diversion Program she established in May 2020.