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Expungement clinic helps community rid record of marijuana-related offenses

Marijuana expungement clinic.jpg
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jul 03, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Inside of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' expungement clinic were lawyers and Southern Arizonans working together towards a second chance.

“We have been absolutely inundated with the interest,” said Julie Gunnigle, NORML political director.

Gunnigle was one of the lawyers inside and she's also a former candidate for Maricopa County Attorney.

She explained the opportunity to wipe your record goes live July 12 and it only takes 15 minutes worth of paperwork to complete.

“What Proposition 207 said is if someone has a previous conviction of having less than 2.5 ounces of cannabis, 12.5 grams of concentrate, low-level cultivation offenses, and paraphernalia charges, those can be sealed forever from their criminal history,” said Gunnigle.

She said over the past decade there have been about 189,000 cannabis-related arrests in Arizona.

Attendee and Ambassador for NORML, Michelle Ochoa, is one of the thousands who have a marijuana-related offense on her record.

“I was just a kid when it happened," explained Ochoa. "The charge on my record impacted me greatly. I was trying to apply for a home, and no one would work with me because of this minor paraphernalia record.”

After submitting her paperwork Saturday, she said she’s excited to take part in the many opportunities she hasn’t been able to participate in and she’s excited to help others.

“My goal is to help the community and as many other people as we can to clear their records," said Ochoa.

NORML added clinics like these can also help those who have gone through diversion programs.

Acre 41

Other local groups, like Acre 41, also took advantage of the clinic today to educate the community about their rights and how to capitalize on the industry.

The group is made up of four black women who say they are heavily involved in the cannabis industry.

"What we notice is that a lot of people that look just like us who are suffering the most and when we go into dispensaries and when we go into any of these cannabis businesses we don't see anyone who looks like us at all. We don't see any black owners. We don't see any black employees," said Zsa Zsa Simone Brown.

As the group work towards more equity, they say they aren't worried about all the time they are putting in to reach the community because they know it is a ticket to success.

NORML tells KGUN 9 it plans to host another clinic late this month.