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Arizona legalizes recreational marijuana, begins plans to expunge records

Arizona was one of four states that passed recreational marijuana laws this week.

Arizona sign Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Although the country is held in suspense over the turnout of the presidential election, there were several other issues voted on this Election Day that have yielded results. One was the legalization of recreational marijuana, which passed in New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona.

South Dakota similarly approved the use of medical marijuana, becoming the first state to legalize both at the same time. As reported by REVOLT, Oregon also voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Arizona’s Prop 207, which legalized recreational marijuana on Tuesday (Nov. 3), also created a path to expunging the records of marijuana offenders. The legislation will offer people convicted of low-level marijuana crimes a chance to have their criminal records cleared.

Smart and Safe Arizona — who pushed for the proposition to be passed — argued that the state’s marijuana laws disproportionately affected low-income residents and people of color.

“I think it is high time for our state and the rest of the country to stop ruining people’s lives over victimless crimes,” a lawyer with the Rose Law Group, Adam Trenk, told Cronkite News.

Beginning on July 12, 2021, those with felony marijuana convictions will be able to petition to have their records expunged — as long as they were only caught possessing 2.5 ounces or less of the substance.

Other advocacy groups also applauded the four states’ marijuana legalization in regard to how it will propel social justice reform.

“This is incredible,” Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told The New York Times this week. “This is like taking a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of the drug war.”

Recreational marijuana is now legal in 15 states and in Washington D.C. On Wednesday (Nov. 4), Mississippi also passed the legalization of medical marijuana, joining 33 other states and D.C.

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