Marijuana Possession Laws in Arizona
Marijuana laws across the nation seem to change every year. Some states have decriminalized recreational use, some allow medical marijuana and some still criminalize possession of pot for any reason. In Arizona, state law allows for the use of marijuana in limited circumstances, and the penalties for violating marijuana laws are very steep. Violating Arizona marijuana law can lead to felony charges, years in prison and fines.
Per A.R.S. §13-3405(A)(1) possessing marijuana in Arizona is a Class 6 felony. Being caught with less than 2 pounds of pot is punishable by up to two years in prison and a minimum fine of $750. Twenty-four hours of community service are required if a judge grants probation for this offense. Selling this amount of marijuana is a Class 4 felony that can result in 3.75 years in prison and a minimum fine of $750 or probation and 240 hours of community service. The possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a Class 6 felony that may result in two years in prison and a fine of $750.
Driving while under the influence of marijuana is a serious crime in Arizona. First-time offenders can be jailed for six months, fined almost $2,000, have their license suspended for three months and be put on probation for five years. If a child is in the vehicle, the offense becomes a Class 6 Felony subject to fines of up to $150,000 and loss of driving privileges for three years. Because marijuana metabolites stay in the body for up to one month, it is possible to be arrested for driving under the influence long after illegally using marijuana.
In addition to the above penalties, a felony conviction can have serious consequences for many people. College students lose eligibility for federal financial aid after being convicted of a drug-related felony. Licensed professionals like nurses, lawyers and teachers may lose their professional certification or careers. Those with prior felonies are subject to increased penalties. Violating marijuana laws near a school also carries extra penalties.
It is possible to possess marijuana in Arizona without being arrested on a felony charge, thanks to Proposition 203. Approved by the voters in November 2010, this proposition decriminalizes medical marijuana for patients with a written certification from their physician. Patients who suffer from a number of maladies, including cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s disease or any medical condition or treatment that causes pain, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms or several other symptoms can qualify to use medical marijuana. With written certification, patients may possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and grow up to twelve marijuana plants. However, patients who live within 25 miles of a medical marijuana dispensary may not grow their own marijuana. Additionally, medical marijuana patients are not subject to criminal penalties for driving with marijuana metabolites in their blood. Patients must be able to prove their eligibility to use medical marijuana and that their marijuana was purchased from a licensed dispensary.