Marijuana Law in Arizona: Everything You Need to Know

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. In November 2010, Arizona passed Prop 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which made it possible to use cannabis as a medicinal product. In 2016, citizen-initiated Prop 205 failed to legalize recreational marijuana. However, in 2020 Prop 207, a re-working of Prop 205, made the ballot and earned a yes vote on approval. Prop 207 legalized recreational marijuana across the state and included a variety of other measures pertaining to cannabis usage and growth.  

As of 2021,18 states and the Washington DC area have legalized recreational marijuana. As well, medical marijuana has been legalized in 37 states. However, marijuana is still not legal at the federal level and is currently classified as a Schedule I drug with high potential for abuse and little to no medical benefit. The current Biden administration has made no move to accept or push for pro-cannabis legislation. The lack of legislation at the federal level has also created challenges for businesses in states with recreational use. 

Understanding how Prop 207 works and what it allows and doesn’t can help protect you from the law. This page is here to help you understand the different parts of the law so you can make the best possible choice. Mistakes can happen. If you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law when it comes to marijuana, Rideout Law Group is here to help. We specialize in marijuana convictions and want to help you if you’re ever in a sticky situation. As well, with the ability to expunge your record of previous marijuana convictions around the corner, Rideout law is here to help with the process. 

Marijuana Law in Arizona
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    The Basics 

    Here are the most important parts of the law broken down. 

    • You must be over 21 to buy and use marijuana legally 
    • You can possess and use no more than one ounce or less of marijuana 
    • You can possess no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate
    • You can possess no more than six marijuana plants at your primary residence
    • You cannot smoke in public or in an open space
    • The first violation for unlawful use has been reduced to a civil penalty 
    • The second violation for unlawful use is a petty offense
    • All subsequent violations are a class 1 misdemeanor 
    • If you ever find yourself in violation of the law, a lawyer is able to help

    Prop 207

    Prop 207 was the ballot proposition to legalize recreational marijuana across the state of Arizona. The prop received a yes vote in the 2020 election cycle, legalizing recreational use. Prop 207 legalized the purchase and cultivation of cannabis to a certain amount across the state. The local law does not comply with federal law, but the federal government can be best described as tolerable when it comes to state laws. 

    You must be 21 or older to purchase from dispensaries and to cultivate your own plants. You are allowed to possess and use one ounce or less of marijuana and no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate. You are also allowed to grow no more than six marijuana plants in your primary residence. However, no more than 12 plants total can be grown in a single residence between two or more people; marijuana produced by those plants must be cultivated in an enclosed, locked area that is not visible to the public. Any marijuana you wish to give to another person from those plants must be less than one ounce and must be done without any form of payment. The person receiving the product needs to be 21 or older. 

    DUIs are still possible while using marijuana. While Prop 207 states you can’t receive a DUI simply for the presence of marijuana within the body, the slightest impairment makes you eligible. As well, consuming cannabis while riding as a passenger in a motorized form of transportation can lead to a DUI. 

    Cannabis can also not be imported into the state and you cannot send or receive marijuana seeds. Both are felonies under ARS 13-3405. Local and federal officers monitor potential high traffic areas for any potential distribution over state lines. 

    Marijuana cannot be smoked in any public or open spaces. Someone who owns, manages, or leases a property can prohibit or regulate any usage or cultivation of marijuana. An employer is not required to allow their employees the right to use marijuana under the state’s current drug-free workplace laws. 

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    Expungement

    Starting July 12, 2021, anyone with previous cannabis-related offenses convicted of consumption, transportation, cultivation, or possession can petition for expungement on their criminal record.

    Expungement applies to these marijuana-related charges:

    • Possessing, consuming, or transporting two-and-a-half ounces or less of marijuana. Only 12 and one-half grams of this can be marijuana concentrate.
    • Possessing, transporting, cultivating, or processing six or fewer marijuana plants at your residence for personal use.
    • Possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the cultivation, manufacture, processing, or consumption of marijuana.  

    The defendant can’t have any pending felony charges or history of convicted felonies prior to the marijuana-related charge they want to expunge. The expungement also doesn’t apply to federal marijuana crimes and charges.

    If you owe fees or fines on non-eligible crimes in the same case, you’ll need to ask the court for a new payment plan.

    DUI Laws 

    In Arizona, DUIs carry a heavy fine and strip drivers of their licenses. The penalties for alcohol-related DUIs and drug-related DUIs are the same. When you apply for the privilege of a driver's license in the state of Arizona, you consent to be tested for blood alcohol concentration or drug content. The same applies to a boating license and the potential to receive a BUI. 

    The offenses are as followed from the ADOT Website: 

    • First offense: You will be jailed for not less than 10 consecutive days and fined not less than $1,250. You will also be required to undergo alcohol screening/education/treatment and to equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device, and be ordered to perform community service.
    • Second and subsequent offenses: You will be jailed for not less than 90 days and fined not less than $3,000 and your license will be revoked for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo alcohol screening/education/treatment and to equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device, and be ordered to perform community service.

    As well, charges will be more extreme if a child under the age of 15 is present in the car at the time of the charge. 

    A lawyer educated in current laws and regulations can reduce DUI sentencing, fines, and even have a DUI charge completely dismissed. DUIs can add up and become expensive. A lawyer can help determine the best plans of action to lessen those charges for you.

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    Types of Offenses 

    The passing of Prop 207 changed the level of offense for cannabis. The different levels of offenses include: 

    Petty offenses are punishable by a maximum fine of $300 and community service. Types of offenses include:

    • Smoking marijuana in a public or open place
    • Possessing more than one ounce but no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana
    • Possessing no more than 12.5 ounces of marijuana concentrate
    • A civil penalty of not more than $100 for a first-time violation for underage use. A second violation of underage use would then be classified as a petty offense

    Consumption 

    Any smoking of marijuana must be done on your private property. Smoking in public places is not allowed under Arizona law. It’s important to note since marijuana isn’t legalized at the federal level, usage on federal land can come with different penalties. Arizona is home to a variety of national parks which are all under federal law. If you are caught using cannabis at a national park, you may face federal-level charges. 

    • Possession of any amount - first offense: Misdemeanor with a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
    • Possession of any amount - second offense: A misdemeanor with a maximum $2,500 fine and up to two years in prison. Mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days.
    • Possession of any amount - subsequent offenses: Potentially a felony with a maximum $5,000 fine and up to three years in prison. A mandatory minimum prison sentence of 90 days.

    As well, none of the state’s 22 federally recognized tribes have legalized marijuana. Usage on this land can come with a unique set of penalties. 

    Different forms and their legality 

    All forms of marijuana are legal in Arizona. Medical marijuana users may face some limitations with the type of form due to insurance. It’s important to remember the carrying amount of five grams when using other more condensed forms of cannabis.  

    Buying and Selling 

    The licensing to sell marijuana changes depending on medical or recreational use. Medical marijuana can only be sold by a licensed nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary. Qualifying patients or caregivers are able to purchase medical marijuana. There is no set age limit to buy medical marijuana. However, anyone under the age of 18 who has been recognized with a need will have a different set of rules to purchase they must follow. Under a medical marijuana card, one cannot obtain more than two and one-half ounces over a 14 day period. 

    Recreational marijuana must be sold by a licensed establishment. With the most recent social equity lottery, there are now a total of 169 state store licenses. To purchase and carry recreational marijuana, you must be 21 or older.

    Cultivation 

    Cultivation laws vary based on medical and recreational use. In cases of medical use, cultivation is based on distance from a licensed dispensary. If you are located more than 25 miles from a state-licensed dispensary facility, you can grow up to 12 marijuana plants. 

    Those looking to grow for recreational use may not grow more than six plants on their personal property, and no more than 12 plants at a single residence with two or more people. All growing must take place in an enclosed, locked area that is not directly visible from public view. 

    Usage and Employment 

    Prop 207 did not change current Arizona laws on drugs in the workplace. An employer is not required to hire someone who tests positive for marijuana usage. Businesses still have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. 

    When it comes to medical use, employers cannot discriminate unless a position is considered a “safety-sensitive” job. This clause was put into place after The Medical Marijuana Act and is mainly used by employers to keep medical marijuana patients out of jobs that require commercial driver licenses, use heavy machinery, or medical work. 

    Wrap-up

    Being knowledgeable about the current marijuana laws in Arizona is one of the best ways to protect yourself from any potential charges. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, so being familiar with what’s allowed and what isn’t in your home state or a place you plan on visiting will help you stay on the right side of the law. If you do ever find yourself with a marijuana-related charge, working with a lawyer who is well-versed in the area can help you understand the why and if there is any way your charges can be lowered. Here at Rideout Law Group, we have spent hundreds of hours working on cannabis-related cases and are here to help you through any issues. Working with a lawyer can help make something that feels completely overwhelming, smaller, and easier to handle.