New marijuana policy could impact more than 5K cases in Phoenix area

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More than 5,000 cases in metro Phoenix could be affected under county prosecutors’ plan to drop marijuana-related charges following the passage of Proposition 207, officials said Tuesday.

Prop 207, which decriminalizes the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona, was adopted in a 20-point landslide in last week’s election.

On Monday, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it will start filing motions to dismiss pending and unfiled possession and paraphernalia charges.

On Tuesday, MCAO spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer released information about how many cases could be impacted and how the process would unfold.

“We have to review each individually and expect to find that most of those can be dismissed,” she said in an email. “However, a significant number will include other felony charges – meaning that the entire case will not be dismissed, only those charges covered by Prop 207.”

Of the cases impacted, Liewer said about 3,500 involve bench warrants with offenses that won’t be illegal under Prop 207. Those warrants will be dismissed if they don’t include charges outside the scope of the ballot initiative.

About 1,400 of the charges are awaiting a determination of probable cause in the preliminary hearing stage after being filed.

In about 1,000 cases, attorneys have determined that charges could be filed, but they haven’t yet done that. Those could be thrown out before they are filed.

Liewer also said about 180 cases impacted were already in the trial phase.

MCAO said it will first look to dismiss cases with court dates and those in custody.

“We will not be able to know a true number of cases impacted until we individually review all of them,” Liewer said.

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