In 2020, Arizona voters approved Prop. 207, which legalized recreational marijuana sales at dispensaries throughout the state. It also established a new avenue to a clean slate for those with marijuana-related misdemeanors.

In a bid to clear the records of those burdened by past marijuana misdemeanors, a nonprofit organization named Reclaim Your Future spearheaded a press conference downtown Thursday morning.

Dev Arredondo, an attorney for Southern Arizona Legal Aid, made clear that for some, filing their expungement is life-changing.

“Its amazing, hearing a client, after you tell a client their record has been expunged, to have them call you, or email you, or however interact with you, what a big difference this has made for them, it just makes everything worth it,” she said.

The mission for Reclaim Your Future and their partners is simple: to raise awareness about the expungement process, offering free assistance to eligible individuals.

Fueled by taxes generated from recreational marijuana sales, Reclaim Your Future has joined forces with key entities such as the Tucson Prosecutors Office, Southern Arizona Legal Aid, and the University of Arizona Civil Rights Clinic. Together, they seek to alleviate the obstacles faced by individuals with marijuana-related charges on their records.

Matthew Walker, Assistant City Prosecutor with the Tucson Prosecutors Office, shed light on the significance of expungement, emphasizing its impact on various aspects of life.

“Its going to present an obstacle for you if they do a background check… if youre trying to get an apartment, if youre trying to improve your living situation, if youre trying to get a job… If youre trying to go to school,” Walker said.

Since January, the Tucson Prosecutors Office has processed over 450 expungement petitions, with more than 180 applicants successfully having their charges expunged.

Walker estimates that over 12,000 individuals in Pima County alone are eligible for expungement, underlining the scale of impact this initiative can achieve.

Martin Hutchins Jr., Program Manager of Reclaim Your Future Campaign, reiterated the organization’s commitment to assisting individuals with a marijuana-related criminal offense record from the state of Arizona.

“As long as you have a criminal offense record from the state of Arizona, related to marijuana, well help you out,” Hutchins said.

The expungement process, while life-altering for many, has been streamlined through collaboration with the Tucson Prosecutors Office.

Walker emphasized the efficiency of their partnership.

“If our office is doing it… theres very little hold-up,” he said.

Despite the challenges posed by prior convictions, the expungement of marijuana misdemeanors offers newfound opportunities for affected individuals.

With over 450 petitions filed and 184 granted thus far, the efforts of Reclaim Your Future and its partners signify a step towards justice and societal reintegration for those burdened by past marijuana misdemeanors.