Arizona Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits

by Kat Austin November 27, 2023 7 min read

Arizona Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits - Vida Optima™

Over the past decade, Arizona has undergone a transformative journey from cannabis prohibition to a fully legalized landscape for adult use. Navigating the realm of both medical and recreational cannabis can be complex and challenging amidst these evolving laws. 

But fear not! We're here to unravel the intricacies of Arizona cannabis laws. Join us as we delve into the specifics of possession, cultivation, penalties, and the ins and outs of purchasing and selling cannabis in the state. 

Ready to dive in? Let's explore Arizona's cannabis laws.

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in Arizona?
Arizona Marijuana Laws
How the Legal Sale of Cannabis Happens
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes
Timeline of Cannabis Laws in Arizona

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Arizona..
  • Arizona residents over the age of 21 can purchase cannabis at state-licensed dispensaries and can cultivate cannabis in their homes. 
  • Adults can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis or 2.5 ounces with a medical card. 
  • Of that one ounce, only 5 grams can be cannabis concentrate. 
  • There are penalties for possessing more than the allowable amount of cannabis, for unlicensed sales, and for consuming in public spaces. 
Cannabis flower grown outdoors in accordance with Arizona cannabis laws

Is Cannabis Legal in Arizona?

Absolutely! Both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Arizona. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2010 by a narrow margin of just over 50%. Nonetheless, medical cannabis is now available across the state. The Proposition 207 ballot initiative in November 2020 was passed, legalizing recreational cannabis for all adults over the age of 21. 

Regulations for Medical Use in Arizona

In order to get a medical cannabis card in Arizona, you must meet certain qualifications.

  • Adult applicants must be 18 years or older to apply.
  • Minor applicants can also get a medical card, but a designated caregiver must apply on their behalf.
  • Medical applicants must have residency proof in the state of Arizona.
  • A licensed physician must evaluate applicants for one or more conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Arizona.

To date, over 200,000 people have participated in Arizona's medical marijuana program. The Medical Marijuana Act authorizes qualifying patients to:

  • Possess, for personal use, up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana
  • Purchase up to 2.5 ounces over the course of a 14-day calendar period
  • Use cannabis in private and approved medical settings

Qualifying Conditions and Regulations for Medical Cannabis in Arizona

As Proposition 203 passed, the Arizona Department of Health Services was employed  to create a medical marijuana program, including a list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. The conditions include:

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Severe and Chronic Pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms

Regulations for Adult Use Cannabis in Arizona

Adults over the age of 21 can:

  • Possess, use, or buy up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana, of which up to five grams can be concentrated. 
  • Grow, handle, or move no more than six marijuana plants for a single adult or up to 12 plants total in a home with two or more adults. Cannabis plants must be grown in a secured area, such as a room or closet, that is inaccessible to minors. 
  • Gift up to an ounce of marijuana and six premature plants to another adult over 21 without getting paid.
  • Enjoy cannabis–but only in private spaces.

Restrictions for Cannabis Use in Arizona

Alaska has embraced both recreational and medical marijuana but under strict regulations. Here are the key restrictions:

  • Purchasing or using recreational marijuana is restricted to those 21 years and older.
  • Growing more than six marijuana plants in a single adult home is prohibited.
  • Possessing over one ounce of marijuana is illegal for adult-use participants. 
  • Medical card holders can purchase no more than 2.5 ounces over a 14 day calendar period. 
  • Public use or display of marijuana, regardless of type, is prohibited.
  • Using or purchasing marijuana within 500 feet of schools or recreational centers is illegal.
  • Possessing marijuana for distribution without a license is prohibited.
  • Selling marijuana to anyone under 21 is illegal. 
  • Selling home grown marijuana without a license is illegal. 
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is strictly prohibited.

Arizona Marijuana Laws

Arizona's marijuana laws saw a seismic shift with the passage of the Smart and Safe Act (Proposition 207) in November 2020, legalizing recreational cannabis. Adults 21 and older can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate and transfer the same amount to other adults without payment. The act also permits growing up to 6 plants at home, doubling for households with two or more adults.

Recreational sales in licensed dispensaries commenced in January 2021 after the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) established regulations. Until June 1, 2021, local laws govern sales until ADHS sets state rules. The Act imposes a 16% excise tax on recreational cannabis sales and allows expungement of certain past convictions.

Public use remains prohibited, including on school grounds and in correctional facilities. Arizona controls the number of marijuana pharmacies, linking their issuance to pharmacy permits.

By January 2021, 73 dispensaries were approved for recreational sales, now boasting 169, with 148 in operation as of July 2023. The ADHS continually updates rules for marijuana establishments and testing facilities. While delivery isn't currently permitted, regulations are set for adoption by January 2025 to allow for recreational marijuana delivery.

How Cannabis is Bought and Sold in Arizona

In Arizona, those seeking medical marijuana need to meet ADHS conditions, join the state registry, and secure a registry ID card, available for both adults and minors. Minors require parental or guardian involvement and two physicians' certifications for registry inclusion.

For recreational cannabis, Arizona allows sales to adults 21 and above, requiring dispensaries to verify buyers' age, identity, and residency using photo IDs.

Licensed dispensaries are the sole legal sellers of cannabis in Arizona, capable of holding medical, adult-use, or dual licenses. Medical dispensaries operate as nonprofits; a dual licensee must possess both a non-profit medical dispensary registration and a marijuana establishment license.

Dispensaries can sell concentrates, edibles, and paraphernalia for adults, expanding beyond dried flowers and hash.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Arizona

In the realm of marijuana-related transgressions in Arizona, the following penalties and legal considerations come into play:

Possession Penalties

  • Over 1 ounce to 2.5 ounces:Petty offense, up to $300 fine.
  • More than 2.5 ounces to 2 pounds: Class 4 felony, $150,000 fine, 6 to 18 months in prison.
  • More than 2 pounds to less than 4 pounds: Class 5 felony, $150,000 fine, 9 months to 2 years in prison.
  • Over 4 pounds: Class 4 felony, $150,000 fine, 18 months to 3 years in prison.

Intent to Distribute Penalties

  • Sales of less than 2 pounds: Class 4 felony, 18 months to 3 years in prison, $150,000 fine.
  • Sales of 2 to 4 pounds:Class 3 felony, 30 months to 7 years in prison, $150,000 fine.
  • Sales of more than 4 pounds:Class 2 felony, 4 to 10 years in prison, $150,000 fine.

Cultivation Penalties

  • Cultivation of over 6 plants: Felony, up to $150,000 fine, 9 months to 7 years in prison.

Trafficking Penalties

  • Delivery of less than 2 pounds: Class 3 felony, 2.5 to 7 years in prison, $150,000 fine.
  • Delivery of 2 pounds or more: Class 2 felony, 4 to 10 years in prison, $150,000 fine.

Distributing Marijuana Penalties

  • Distribution of less than 2 pounds: Class 3 felony, 2 to 7 years in prison, minimum $750 fine or thrice the marijuana's value.
  • Distribution of over 2 pounds:Class 2 felony, 3 to 10 years in prison, $750 or thrice the marijuana's value.

Hash and Concentrates Penalties

  • Possession of 5 to 12.5 grams: Petty offense, up to $300 fine.
  • Possession of over 12.5 grams:Felony, 12 to 45 months in prison, $150,000 fine.
  • Manufacture or sale: Felony, 3 to 12.5 years in prison, $150,000 fine.

Marijuana DUI Penalties

  • First Offense:Jail for 10 to 180 days, fines up to $1,800, 90-day license suspension, probation, community service, and traffic course attendance.
  • Second Offense: 90 to 180 days in jail, fines up to $3,500, year-long license revocation, probation, community restitution, and educational programs.
  • Third Offense: Minimum 4 months in jail, fines up to $150,000, 3-year license revocation, lengthy probation, and potential vehicle seizure.

Marijuana Consumption Violations

  • Consumption in public places:Misdemeanor, fines only.
  • Consumption at nonprofit dispensaries: Misdemeanor, fines only.

Additional Restrictions

  • Arizona's marijuana laws don't mandate workplace accommodation for possession, consumption, sale, or transfer of marijuana.
  • Proposition 207 prevents law enforcement from conducting warrantless searches based solely on the smell of marijuana.
  • Participation in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program doesn't exempt individuals from potential criminal or civil penalties for marijuana-related violations.
  • Private property owners retain the right to prohibit marijuana smoking within their premises.
  • Medical marijuana patients are restricted from possessing marijuana in educational institutions or correctional facilities.
  • Despite cannabis legalization, performing tasks under marijuana influence is considered negligent and doesn't protect against criminal or civil penalties.

Timeline of Cannabis Laws in Arizona

Throughout the decades, Arizona’s stance on marijuana has seen significant shifts:

  • 1996:Proposition 200, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act, allows limited cannabis prescription for terminal illnesses and introduces probation instead of jail time for nonviolent drug offenses.
  • 1997:House Bill 2518 alters provisions in Proposition 200, restricting cannabis prescription to cases authorized by the federal government.
  • 2002:Proposition 203 attempts to decriminalize adult-use marijuana, aiming to legalize 2 ounces' possession and two household plants.
  • 2010: Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, legalizes medical cannabis, permitting patients with specific conditions to possess up to 2.5 ounces and grow cannabis within 25 miles of a dispensary.
  • 2012:Legal sales of medical marijuana officially begin.
  • 2016: Proposition 205 (Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative) fails, aiming to legalize adult cannabis use, allowing possession of one ounce and cultivation of six plants.
  • 2019:Senate Bill 1494, signed by Governor Ducey, mandates third-party laboratory testing for potency and contaminants in medical marijuana at dispensaries.
  • 2020:Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, legalizes recreational marijuana, permitting adults to possess one ounce and grow six plants per household.
  • 2021: Recreational marijuana sales officially commence, marking a significant milestone in Arizona's cannabis landscape.

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door. Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections.

Vida Optima Cloud 9 THC Gummies

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