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MCAO expunging over 10,000 marijuana cases from court system

County Attorney Allister Adel's office has filed over 10,000 petitions since a new state law went into effect that allowed marijuana offenses to be expunged.

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said it's filed over 10,000 petitions to expunge local marijuana convictions after Arizona's voters passed an initiative to legalize the possession of recreational marijuana. 

The third-largest prosecutorial agency in the country announced Monday it had filed 10,607 expungement petitions since Prop. 207 went into effect last summer.

The proposition passed in 2020 decriminalized possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, which opened the door for residents to eliminate previous drug convictions from their records. 

Over the last seven months, MCAO said it has prioritized expunging the agency's most recent marijuana cases. About 7,000 of the expungement petitions were for charges originally filed after 2016. 

MCAO said prosecutors have been filing no more than 500 petitions each week, so as to not overwhelm the court system. 

“I believe that the will of the voters should be implemented as efficiently as possible,” said Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. “My office is working diligently to continue to identify those cases and assist individuals who have a right to have their records expunged under this voter-approved law.”

About 1,000 of the agency's petitions were generated from public inquiries made through the MCAO webite where citizens can ask whether their case qualifies for an expungement. 

Maricopa County has been criticized in the past regarding how it prosecutes drug crimes, particularly when it comes to the disparities that exist between how different demographics have been prosecuted.  

The American Civil Liberties Union released a report in 2020 that found Hispanic people in the county were sentenced, on average, to almost two months longer than white defendants. 

RELATED: ACLU report: Racial disparities in sentencing of cases brought by Maricopa County Attorney's Office

RELATED: Law groups help Arizonans expunge marijuana charges from record

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