It is not uncommon for people to ask the question: Is weed legal in Arizona? The use of medical marijuana in Arizona has been legal since 2010, but only for those who meet certain requirements. This means that since 2010, only Arizona citizens with a legally authorized prescription have been able to smoke medicinal marijuana as directed. However, in late November of 2020, the passing of the “Smart and Safe Act” made smoking weed for recreational use legal state-wide. The first state-licensed sale of recreational cannabis took place on January 22, 2021.
In addition to answering your question of Is weed legal in Arizona?, our attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group will explain Arizona weed laws and what it means for you as a resident.
Arizona Weed Laws
While the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Arizona, there are some restrictions. As with the purchase and consumption of alcohol, residents must be 21 years or older to legally smoke weed. Also like a DUI in Phoenix, driving while under the influence of marijuana is illegal. Driving while high would classify as a misdemeanor punishable by fines, the suspension of your license, or even a jail sentence or probation.
Another restriction imposed by Arizona law is the amount an adult 21 years or over may possess. No more than 1 ounce, which is equivalent to 28.35 grams of marijuana, is legally allowed on a person at any given time. As such, licensed establishments—such as dispensaries—cannot sell over 1 ounce of weed to recreational users. Medical users are able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces at a time. Adults can also grow their own pot, with a limit of 6 plants in one household.
Another restriction is public smoking. Smoking marijuana while in a public vicinity is strictly prohibited. In addition, employers retain the right to enforce a drug-free workplace and may restrict the use of marijuana by employees at their own will.
Can You Go Into a Dispensary Without a Card in Arizona?
Arizona does not require that residents have a medical marijuana card in order to enter a dispensary. However, if you wish to purchase more than 1 ounce of marijuana, then you will need to show your card to prove that it’s for medicinal purposes.
Though you don’t need a medical card to enter a dispensary, you will likely need your ID card to prove you are at least 21 years of age. If you are below the age of 21 but wish to purchase marijuana from a dispensary, you must have a medical card to do so. To obtain a card, you must first meet specific requirements. These requirements include:
- Be 18 years or over OR have permission from a legal guardian
- Have a residential address in the state of Arizona
- Possess an Arizona personal ID or driver’s license
- Pay $150 state-mandated fee every 2 years
- Or for those on food stamps, $75.
- Have a qualifying condition that requires the use of cannabis
If you meet all of these requirements, you must visit a doctor qualified to work and prescribe medical marijuana. They will determine whether the smoking of medicinal marijuana is right for your condition. If approved, the doctor will send in the necessary paperwork to Health Services, who should then send your card by mail to you within a week or two.
What Happens if You Get Caught With Weed in Arizona in 2021?
Getting caught with weed on your person or property in 2021 looks a lot different than it might have in years previous. This is because, as you now know, weed has been legalized. As long as you are at least 21 years of age, have no more than 1 ounce of weed on you, and are not smoking in a public place, you will not be penalized for getting caught with weed in Arizona.
Is Wax a Felony in Arizona?
Prior to the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” police treated marijuana wax, even in small amounts, as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Marijuana extracts and concentrates, such as wax, were considered to be class four felonies. Since the legalization of recreational marijuana, however, having and using wax is no longer a felony. There are still some restrictions, though.
As you can only possess a certain amount of marijuana in bud form at a time (1 ounce), there is also a limit to how much wax you can possess. Of that 1 ounce of bud—about 28 grams—only 5 grams of that can be of marijuana concentrate. Marijuana concentrate refers to the resin extracted from a cannabis plant, often appearing in the form of wax or oil and smoked through a vape pen.
If you have more than 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of wax, you may receive a charge, but generally not a felony. Instead, you will likely receive a petty offense charge with a civil penalty of up to only $100.
What is Considered Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona?
The law considers any equipment, material, or product used (or intended for use) with a drug to be drug paraphernalia in Arizona. This includes anything designed for use of:
Examples of paraphernalia might be something as obvious as a bong or pipe or something as discreet as a spoon. What matters is the intent behind the equipment, material, or product. For example, if a spoon is found near illegal drugs, one can gather that it is probably being used along with those illegal drugs. Thus, a spoon in the right location can be considered drug paraphernalia.
With the recent law change in the legality of recreational marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia such as bongs or grinders is no longer a criminal offense. However, drugs like methamphetamine and crack cocaine are still highly illegal. If a police officer finds a glass pipe clearly intended for the use of smoking illegal drugs, you may receive a drug paraphernalia charge.
What are the Mandatory Minimums for Possession of Drugs in Arizona?
Just because the possession of marijuana is no longer a crime punishable by law doesn’t mean the possession of other dangerous drugs isn’t punishable. Dangerous drugs can refer to anything from Xanax or prescription Adderall to methamphetamines or hallucinogens. Arizona has its own guidelines for sentencing drug crimes.
The guidelines are broken down into three categories: 1) Multiple Drug Offenses, 2) Personal Possession & Use of Drugs, and 3) Non-Multiple Drug Offenses.
Possession of a dangerous drug or narcotic may result in a class 4 felony offense, but it is possible to have it reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor. Fines may be upwards of $2,000 or 3 times the value of the substance you’re in possession of. The punishment may also carry a sentence of 1 year imprisonment for no prior convictions or up to 3.75 years with priors.
The sentencing chart for multiple drug offenses is as follows:
Multiple Drug Charge Sentences Below Threshold Amounts
According to A.R.S. 13-3419 (A)(1),(2), these are the sentences for drug charges involving quantities below statutory threshold amounts:
SECOND OR MORE DRUG OFFENSE
- 2 – 3 to 12.5 years prison
- 3 – 1.8 to 8.7 years prison
- 4 – 1.1 to 3.75 years prison
- 5 – 0.5 to 2.5 years prison
Multiple Drug Charge Sentences Above Threshold Amounts
According to A.R.S. 13-3419 (A)(3),(4), these are the sentences for drug charges involving quantities that exceed or are equal to statutory threshold amounts:
SECOND DRUG OFFENSE
- 2 – 3.0 to 12.5 years prison
- 3 – 1.8 to 8.7 years prison
- 4 – 1.1 to 3.7 years prison
- 5 – 0.5 to 2.5 years prison
THREE OR MORE DRUG OFFENSES
- 2 – 4.0 to 15 years prison
- 3 – 2.5 to 11.2 years prison
- 4 – 1.5 to 6.2 years prison
- 5 – 0.75 to 5.0 years prison
Monetary fines for felony drug charges can be up to $150,000 per criminal charge.
Contact the Phoenix Drug Defense Attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado
Be sure that you know your rights when it comes to drug possession. Because marijuana is now legal in Arizona, the only way you might get in trouble with the law for weed is if you are underage, have more than 1 ounce on you (or 2.5 for medical patients), drive while under its influence, or are smoking in a public vicinity. However, laws remain strictly enforced for other substances that are illegal. If you or someone you love received a drug-related crime charge, it is important that you seek help from an experienced Phoenix drug possession lawyer. The legal team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group can give you the best chance at having these charges dropped. If the evidence against you is too strong, YMLG will help you assess your options for negotiating a plea deal or seeking a lighter sentence. For a thorough examination of what evidence is admissible in court, please read our related blog, “What Is Hearsay?” Visit abogadoray.com today or give us a call at 602-910-4040 to learn more.