Arizona Weed (MARIJUANA) Laws and Prop 207
One of the most controversial topics of our time: Marijuana. It is also one of the most confusing areas of law for most Arizona citizens as there are many components that make it difficult to follow. Arizona weed laws are a very murky area in our state laws with a ton of gray – the status of legalization, medicinal use, CBD, weight (who measures in ounces and milligrams anyway!?), where you can use it, can you grow it and if so how much? We are here to help break it down for you, to explain the status of marijuana laws in Arizona right now and what is on the ballot in November 2020. Here is our comprehensive review of the Arizona Weed (Marijuana) Laws and Prop 207!
Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Arizona?
Is marijuana legal in Arizona for recreational use currently? No, and Arizona has some of the most restrictive laws regarding Marijuana in the country. Marijuana is classified as a schedule I controlled dangerous substance and has been completely illegal in Arizona since the 1930s. Simple possession of any amount of marijuana is a crime and the severity of the potential punishment depends on the weight of the amount you are found in possession of. The least severe punishment is if you possess any amount of marijuana up to 2 pounds; you are facing a felony charge, up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. This includes all the various forms of marijuana including edibles and concentrates. Any marijuana in your possession and you are guilty of a crime. Additionally, you can be charged with DUI as it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or prohibited drugs. This also refers to any drug or metabolite thereof being in the body. The list of prohibited drugs includes marijuana, so if you are found in possession of marijuana while in your car, you may face additional charges.
The attitude towards recreational marijuana use in Arizona has been changing over the past few years. In November 2016 there was a proposition on the ballot, Prop 205, which was aimed at making recreational use legal for adults over the age of 21 years old. The final vote was 51% no and 48% yes, failing by an extremely small margin. With a new proposition, Prop 207, on the ballot in November 2020, we may be changing our answer to the highly common question of whether weed is legal in Arizona very soon!
Medical Marijuana use in Arizona
Arizona’s medical marijuana laws are an exception to the strict laws criminalizing possession of marijuana. Since November 2010, Arizona weed laws have had a medical marijuana exception carved out for dispensaries and those citizens who have certain listed debilitating medical conditions. These medical conditions are:
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- PTSD, or
- Another medical condition that produces wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
If you have one of those listed debilitating conditions or believe you may be eligible due to symptoms you suffer from described by the final listed catchall condition above, there are certain steps you need to take to get approved under Arizona medical marijuana laws. To get a medical marijuana card, you have to follow these steps:
- Be examined by a doctor and technically any doctor licensed by the state of Arizona can approve you but there is also a registry for marijuana doctors. If they approve you, your doctor will submit a Physician Certification Form and other required documentation to the Department of Health Services.
- Fill out Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Patient Attestation, where you certify that you actually need marijuana for a legitimate medical condition.
- Apply for your card online. You will need to provide a copy of your state-issued identification card and pay an application fee.
Approved patients are listed on a registry, issued a registry identification card, and may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and designate one caregiver to possess it on their behalf. This law also allows a patient who lives more than 25 miles from the closest dispensary to grow up to 12 plants for their sole medical use. Arizona medical marijuana laws do honor out-of-state registry identification cards for visitors to the state for up to 30 days. However, they are not to be used to purchase marijuana from a medical dispensary.
CBD Use in Arizona
Here is where things get especially murky due to the state of Arizona marijuana laws. In the most simple terms, cannabidiol (“CBD”) is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants. Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) is another component found in cannabis plants and it is the main psychoactive compound that is responsible for producing the high sensation. THC can be consumed by smoking cannabis but also ingested through oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more. CBD is sold in the form of gels, creams, oils, supplements, extracts, gummies, and other edibles. CBD can be extracted from either hemp or cannabis plants. From 1970 until 2018 all types of cannabis were classified as illegal until the 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp federally as an agricultural commodity and created a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. For a cannabis plant to be legal, it must contain .3% THC or less and that is what changes the name to hemp. If it has more than .3% THC then it is called marijuana.
Do you know where your CBD is coming from? What type of AZ cannabis plant is it coming from? This is an important question because as you can see, the source (marijuana or hemp) technically determines the legality. Arizona weed laws do not have specific regulations for hemp-derived CBD products. The only indication we have of how the Arizona State Legislature feels about CBD is SB 1098 which was passed in May 2018. This bill allows Arizona to establish and regulate a program to grow, harvest, process research, and sell industrial hemp and all hemp products, which is defined as a cannabis plant or derived from a cannabis plant with less than .3% THC. What is unnerving for many people is that Arizona has not made an explicit ruling on the legality of hemp-derived CBD for recreational use.
Cannabis Cultivation Laws in Arizona
Cannabis cultivation – can you grow marijuana legally in Arizona? Most likely the answer is no unless you fall within Arizona’s medical marijuana laws exception. The law is clear that only qualifying patients who live more than 25 miles away from a legal dispensary may grow marijuana for their personal medicinal use. The takeaway is that even if you have a medical marijuana card for medical use, that does not mean you can legally grow it. If you do have a medical marijuana card and live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary, you must follow the following rules:
- Grow the plants out of public view and enclosed in a closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or security devices that permit access only by a cardholder.
- Grow only up to 12 plants at a given time. Exceed that number and you can be charged with a felony.
- Grow marijuana for your personal medicinal use only. You cannot give it out or sell it to other people for recreational or medicinal use.
Arizona has a medical marijuana use and cannabis cultivation exception for medical use but is extremely tough on those who break these Arizona weed laws.
Prop 207, the 2020 Arizona Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative
So, now that we have given you a full accounting of the current state of Arizona marijuana laws, we want to walk you through Prop 207, which you will see on the ballot when you go to vote in the general election in November 2020. This is also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which is a highly-supported initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults (age 21 and up) in Arizona. Here are some of the major highlights of this proposition:
- Adults can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana
- Cannabis cultivation for personal recreational use is capped at 6 plants at your primary residence and 12 plants at a residence where two or more people live (must be adults)
- The State tax on the purchase will be 16% (which is the same for alcohol and cigarettes)
- The use of marijuana is still illegal in public places
- Marijuana edibles will be limited to a maximum of 10 mg of THC per edible and 100mg of THC per package.
- Marijuana products cannot be sold to or marketed in a way that would appeal to children (i.e. via cartoons, animals, toys, etc.)
- Medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to begin selling recreationally according to a licensing and application process.
- There will be marijuana testing facilities to test for harmful contaminants such as pesticides, molds, etc.
- The expungement of prior convictions for certain prior marijuana offenses will be eligible starting July 2021.
If this act is approved, meaning it wins by majority vote, then the Arizona Department of Health Services is required to establish recreational marijuana regulations by April 5th, 2021. Also note that like alcohol, even though it is legal for recreational use, you can still get a DUI. Employers have the right to maintain a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol-free workplace.
The state of Arizona weed laws is one that will hopefully have more clarity after our November 2020 general election. Currently, there is a zero-tolerance policy for possession of any amount of marijuana for recreational use and Arizona has stiff penalties if you are found breaking these laws. Make sure you exercise your right to vote this November – whether you are for or against the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, it is your constitutional right and responsibility to vote and have a say in the laws of your state. If you or a loved one is charged with possession of marijuana, distribution of marijuana, paraphernalia, or any other drug possession or distribution-related crimes, our experienced team of attorneys are here to help.
Our team of dedicated trial attorneys at Antol & Sherman, PC, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience and a strong track record of providing successful legal counsel. We have been practicing criminal, family and divorce, drug and DUI, and accident law in Flagstaff, Arizona, and surrounding northern Arizona cities including Camp Verde, Sedona, Williams, Holbrook, Winslow, Cottonwood, Mayer, Seligman, Kingman, Page, St. Johns and more for over 30 years. Antol & Sherman, PC, and their staff of lawyers would love to sit down and discuss your legal needs. Please call us at 928-241-6339, stop in today at Antol & Sherman, PC, 150 N Verde St Suite 102, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 or visit us at flagazlaw.com.