Prior convictions and arrests for the sale of marijuana may be eligible for expungement

“The decision is a great embodiment of the will of Arizona voters who elected to undo the harms caused by over-policing of marijuana laws.”


Lindsay Fox (Flickr)

Cannabis being harvested

Marcus Reichley, Reporter

Arizonans convicted of selling small amounts of marijuana now qualify to have their records expunged. 

In a recent decision made by the Arizona Appeals Court, under Proposition 207, which legalized recreational cannabis back in 2020, some individuals who were previously convicted of selling marijuana are able to expunge the felony from their records. 

However, there is a condition: The amount of marijuana involved in the conviction must not exceed the legal possession limit. Currently, individuals can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, 12.5 grams of concentrated marijuana, and cultivate up to six live plants.

Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of Arizonans can have their convictions erased from their records, following the decision from the Appeals Court. 

The recent change in policy was prompted by the case of Ethan Sorensen, a 27-year-old who sought expungement of his 2014 conviction for solicitation to commit possession of marijuana for sale. Initially, Sorensen’s application was denied by the Superior Court on the grounds that the law only covered expungement for possession cases. However, with the assistance of the state-funded Arizona Marijuana Expungement Coalition and its Reclaim Your Future project, Sorensen contested the decision.

The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council argued against Sorensen’s expungement, contending that the term “possession” under the law did not include cases involving marijuana intended for sale. 

However, the Appeals Court ruled that the ordinary meaning of “possession” does not imply an intent behind the act. Consequently, the court concluded that the voters did not intend to exclude sale-related cases from expungement.

“This will allow (people who have been convicted) 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,” Martin Hutchins, lead attorney for Reclaim Your Future, said in a statement. “Today’s decision is a great embodiment of the will of the Arizona voters who elected to undo the harms caused by the over-policing of marijuana laws.”

The court’s decision regarding the expungement of sale-related convictions is seen as a significant step toward honoring the voters’ intent and providing solace to numerous Arizonans who have faced charges related to the sale of marijuana.

 The state-funded Reclaim Your Future project is currently helping Valley residents with marijuana-related convictions, one can  apply for expungement at