The possession of marijuana is legal in Arizona, though strictly regulated, following the enactment of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, also known as Proposition 207. The Act comes ten years after the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, aka Proposition 203, legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The Smart and Safe Arizona Act approves the cultivation and possession of stipulated amounts of recreational marijuana by individuals 21 years or older. Arizona laws restrict the amount of adult-use marijuana to one ounce (28.35 grams).
Marijuana concentrate can be no more than five grams of the permitted 28.35 grams. Registered medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess higher amounts of marijuana. It is lawful for them to possess two and one-half ounces of medical cannabis, of which not more than 12.5 grams (0.44 ounce) can be in the form of marijuana concentrate.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is the agency responsible for regulating the use, sales, and processing of marijuana per Proposition 207. The agency also regulates medical marijuana under the provisions of Proposition 203.
Individuals that intend to use marijuana must stick to the recommended amounts and guidelines for use or risk facing drug charges. These charges could be relatively minor violations that incur civil penalties. Or felonies that result in jail terms greater than one year.
Factors determining the gravity of offense and penalty are the amount of marijuana in possession, involving a minor, being convicted of a prior felony, or using marijuana in a school environment.
Marijuana felonies are grouped into classes. In decreasing order of severity, there is class 2 to class 6 felony. Generally, felonies attract serious penalties like jail terms of greater than one year and a fine of up to $150,000. Per ARS 13-3405, the following charges qualify as felonies:
Selling or possession with the intent to sell more than four pounds of marijuana is a class 2 felony.
Selling or possession with the intent to sell two to less than four pounds of marijuana is a class 3 felony.
Producing four pounds or more of marijuana is a class 3 felony.
Possession for the personal use of four pounds or more of marijuana is a class 4 felony.
Selling or possession with the intent to sell less than two pounds of marijuana is a class 4 felony.
Production of two to four pounds of marijuana is a class 4 felony.
Possession for the personal use of two to less than four pounds of marijuana is a class 5 felony.
Producing more than six plants and up to two pounds of marijuana is a class 5 felony.
Possession for the personal use of less than two pounds of marijuana is a class 6 felony.
Arizona courts do not typically sentence first-time offenders possessing less than two pounds of marijuana. Rather, they are placed on probation. Drug education or counseling is also mandatory for first-time convictions for marijuana possession. On the other hand, persons indicted for possessing more than two pounds of marijuana will face jail time and fines.
Individuals in Arizona can purchase adult-use marijuana from marijuana establishments. This requires a valid means of identification to certify that the buyer is 21 years or older.
The ADHS has the prerogative to license marijuana establishments. The agency also maintains a directory of approved marijuana establishments in the state. The directory has the names, telephone numbers, locations, and website addresses of approved marijuana establishments.
Qualified patients can also purchase medical marijuana from non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries. While state laws limit possession of recreational marijuana to one ounce, medical marijuana patients can buy up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana every 14 days.
The law states that an individual has to be 21 years and older to purchase marijuana or marijuana-containing products in Arizona. However, there is no age limit for patients in the Arizona medical marijuana program. Patients or their caregivers can purchase legal amounts of medical marijuana regardless of their age.
Proposition 207 allows adults 21 years or older to possess one ounce (28.35 grams), of which not more than five grams can be marijuana concentrate. Medical marijuana patients can possess two and-one half ounces of usable marijuana.
Possession, consumption, transportation, or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of marijuana concentrate by an individual under the age of 21 years is illegal per ARS 36-2853.
The first violation attracts a civil penalty of not more than $100, paid to the Smart and Safe Arizona Fund. The court will also order the offender to complete four hours of compulsory drug education or counseling.
A second offense is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and eight hours of drug education or counseling.
The third or subsequent offense is a class 1 misdemeanor. The offender may pay up to $2,500 in fines and spend up to 6 months in jail. The court may also impose community service or probation.
Individuals under 21 years of age who misrepresent their age or use a false means of identification to purchase marijuana can be charged with a petty offense or a class 1 misdemeanor.
Six or 12 plants. In Arizona, it is legal for individuals 21 years or older to grow six marijuana plants at their private primary residence. State laws, however, limit the number of plants in a household with more than one adult to 12.
Medical marijuana patients or caregivers can cultivate up to 12 plants in an enclosed, locked space. However, this restriction only applies if they reside more than 25 miles from a dispensary and the ADHS approves the home cultivation.
Home-cultivated marijuana is meant for personal use. As such, it is an offense to sell home-grown marijuana to another individual or exchange the product for service or value.
Arizona's law mandates that residents grow marijuana plants in an enclosed area, out of public view. The cultivation area must have a lock or other security measures to prevent minors from accessing the plants.
The federal government has oversight of interstate and international travel. As such, traveling with any amount of weed is illegal. This restriction even applies to traveling to states where weed is legal. Weed is a schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not search travelers for marijuana particularly. But when agents find marijuana during their routine search, the agency shall inform the local authorities in that jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, patients with medical marijuana cards may travel with marijuana products containing no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.
No, it is not illegal to be high or stoned in public. But it is illegal to smoke marijuana in public. Although Proposition 207 makes adult use legal, the Smoke-Free Arizona Act prohibits people from using marijuana in public spaces.
Nevertheless, it is lawful to smoke inside a private residence, provided it is not a federal government-subsidized house, because marijuana is illegal at the federal level.
Even in private residences, marijuana users cannot smoke in common areas or residences that function as care centers.
Smoking marijuana in public spaces like airports or open spaces like parks or places of employment is entirely prohibited. Any individual caught violating this law will be charged with a petty offense. This is subject to a fine of not more than $300. Each subsequent offense is a class 3 misdemeanor. This is subject to a fine of $500 and a possible 30-day jail term.
Smoking in public or open spaces is a less serious offense than driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana. No individual, including registered medical marijuana patients, may drive when high. This is because marijuana impairs judgment and bodily function, as with other psychoactive drugs. As such, getting high on marijuana makes the vehicle operator a risk to themselves, their passengers, and other road users. The prohibition of driving under the influence of marijuana extends to all kinds of vehicles and machinery.
A first-time offense attracts a fine of $1250, a 10-days jail term, and drug education.
Subsequent offenses will be charged with a penalty of $3000, jail term of not less than 90 days, drug counseling, and revocation of license for 12 months.
Per the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, no officer may perform a vehicle search on the grounds of smell. The law only allows a vehicle search if there are other indications of impairment like driving slowly or swerving in and out of lanes or if the driver grants voluntary consent.