Cannabis laws in the US differ from state to state. While a lot of states made cannabis legal even for recreational use, in other states marijuana laws are still strict even for medical users.
Cannabis laws in Arizona are among one of the strictest in the country where if caught possessing marijuana without a medical card that you are prescribed medical marijuana you might face high fines and potentially even jail time.
We will take a look at the legislation and the cannabis laws in Arizona, as well as what are the allowances for medical users and the fines people might face in the state for illegal possession.
History of Cannabis Laws in Arizona
With the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and later on, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, all 50 states had prohibited marijuana for use. However, different states started decriminalizing marijuana at least for medical use at different periods. In Arizona, that was done quite late as state legislators didn’t start petitioning for reforms of the cannabis laws in the state until the middle of the 1990s.
Medical marijuana was first endorsed by Arizona voters in 1996. It was done through an initiative intended to change the criminalization of marijuana after the recognition of its benefits for patients suffering from different conditions and diseases. However, the outcome was not positive since the bill was overturned.
The second attempt in legalizing marijuana for medical use in the state of Arizona was in 2002. However, this was another unsuccessful attempt since Proposition 203 only managed to get 42.7% of the vote, not enough for the bill to be passed.
Marijuana remains illegal even for recreational use until 2010. Even then, the margin for the legalization of medical marijuana was very slim – 50.13% of the vote, yet it was enough to pass new legislation. However, the legislation was still very restrictive as under Proposition 203, only qualifying patients and caregivers were able to take part in the medical marijuana program of Arizona. This excluded a large group of people who could benefit from cannabis but they couldn’t be considered as qualifying patients.
Medical Marijuana Arizona via Leaf Online
The sale of medical marijuana didn’t start until December 2012. With the regulations being very strict in accordance with the cannabis laws in Arizona, even qualifying patients could face fines for purchasing marijuana from not registered and approved sources. They could only buy medical marijuana from non-profit and state-regulated dispensaries.
To this day, the situation remains the same and cannabis is still not decriminalized for recreational use according to the cannabis laws in Arizona.
How Can You Buy Marijuana in Arizona?
Due to the very restrictive cannabis laws in Arizona, only people who are qualified patients and caregivers can gain access to dispensaries where medical cannabis is sold. In order to do so, however, you need to be registered with the ADHS registry. After being recognized as a qualifying patient, you will receive an identification card which allows you to purchase marijuana from the non-profit dispensaries.
Caregivers, if registered with the ADHS have the right to purchase medical marijuana on behalf of a patient who is ill and unable to go to a dispensary themselves. The state of Arizona also has a delivery service, so in an absence of a caregiver, a qualifying patient can request the service of the state.
Medical Marijuana ID Card Arizona via ABC15 Arizona
The quantity that one can hold according to the cannabis laws in Arizona is also restricted. A medical marijuana user is not allowed to possess more than 2.5 ounces which is around 70 grams in a period of 14 days. The quantity refers to all of the different forms that cannabis comes in for medical use, such as edibles, topicals or oil, as well as a whole flower or for smoking.
The state of Arizona has an open tracking system run by the local government to ensure that the purchases are not surpassing the limit and they keep a history of purchases for all qualifying patients and caregivers as required by the cannabis laws in Arizona.
Medical marijuana is also a subject to tax even though it is sold by non-profit dispensaries. The tax on medical marijuana is 6.6% state tax. Additional 2-3% tax might apply depending on the city where you are buying medical cannabis. Still, for patients who are on a low income, there are some possibilities for discounts or obtaining medical cannabis free of charge.
Even the dispensaries cannabis laws in Arizona are quite strict – for every 10 pharmacies, there can be 1 dispensary. The state cap was reached in November 2018, meaning that the state of Arizona no longer gives out licenses for new dispensaries. Still, as observed the capacity is not enough to meet the demand. Many qualifying patients do not have a dispensary nearby, so they either have to drive long distances or choose to go with the state marijuana delivery service.
Marijuana Consumption Places in Arizona
Judging by how strict the cannabis laws in Arizona are, as you would imagine, marijuana consumption is not allowed in public places even for medical users. All qualifying patients must consume cannabis in a private place. This doesn’t apply only to edibles since they are the only form that medical cannabis is allowed to be consumed in public.
Cars do not classify as private places, so any consumption of marijuana apart from edibles is not allowed in a car, regardless if it is parked on a parking lot. Medical users of marijuana are not allowed to drive under the influence of cannabis, nor they are allowed to be passengers in a car while under the influence.
While nursing care institutions are allowed to make up their own rules about consumption, they are not allowed to unreasonably restrict the right to use medical marijuana. However, there is an exception if the institution is under a threat of a monetary loss or losing its practice license in accordance with federal cannabis laws in Arizona.
Medical Marijuana Arizona via Sonoran News
Possession and Home Cultivating
A registered qualifying patient should not possess more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana in any 14 day period according to the cannabis laws in Arizona.
The state of Arizona allows for registered patients who are over 25 miles away from a dispensary to grow their own cannabis. Still, there are restrictions.
The patients need to submit a request to ADHS for approval. If granted, the patient of the registered caregiver can only cultivate up to 12 plants. The plants must be kept under a lock at all times. They need to be placed in a container and must be out of public view.
It is possible to offer medical cannabis only to other registered patients if the maximum of allowed quantity is not surpassed and only if the cannabis is given as an act of goodwill and not in exchange for money or other items of value.
Dispensaries can obtain cannabis from people who are growing it at home, yet again, that mustn’t include any exchange of items of value as stated by the cannabis laws in Arizona.
As for landlords, they are not allowed to penalize or refuse to lease a property solely due to the fact that the person is a user of medical cannabis.
People who have a condition that can be treated or helped by cannabis but they are not recognized as qualifying patients are not allowed to obtain, possess and consume marijuana. If a person is not considered a qualifying patient, any use of marijuana will be labeled as recreational use even if the person is doing it for the sake of their own health.
In cases like that, when someone fails to show a valid medical cannabis ID card, they can face a minimum of $750 fine and possibly even jail time as stated by the cannabis laws in Arizona.
Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Arizona via AZ420 Card
Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions in Arizona
The following is a list of all qualifying conditions under which a person can be allowed to purchase and consume medical marijuana:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
Medical cannabis laws in Arizona require for a person to be over the age of 18 to be considered a qualifying patient for use of medical marijuana. Still, there are some exceptions were younger patients might qualify, but they need to meet the following criteria:
- The physician of the underaged patient must explain the risks and benefits that marijuana consumption might bring for the patient to the patient’s parent or their guardian
- A written certification by two physicians must be submitted to the ADHS by the patent or the legal guardian of the patient
- The parent or the legal guardian of the patient must agree to accept liability and monitor the acquisition, dosage, and use of medical marijuana on behalf of the patient
Within 90 days of submitting the request to the ADHS they should come back with an answer whether the request has been approved. If so, they will issue a certification. The parent or the legal guardian of the patient then needs to fill in an online application form. The person who requests this needs to provide a proof of address in order to establish residency. If the patient has a caregiver, the information must be filled in. If the distance between the place of residence exceeds 25 miles, the person who is requesting this might ask for permission for home cultivation.
In order to get the medical marijuana ID card, a fee of $150 needs to be paid. This is an annual card, so after it expires a fee of another $150 is applicable. However, the parent or the legal guardian of the patient must apply for renewal no later than 30 days before the card expires according to the cannabis laws in Arizona.
The card is issued within 5 days after receiving the paperwork. When it comes to renewing the card if the state considers that there is an improvement of the patient’s health and that they no longer require medical marijuana, the request for renewal may be denied.
Cannabis Extract News via Fox10
Licenses for Cultivating and Selling Medical Cannabis
In the state of Arizona, only registered non-profit dispensaries are allowed to provide medical marijuana to registered qualifying patients. While dispensaries are regarded as non-profit organizations recognized by a state, they are still not a subject of tax exemption in accordance with the cannabis laws in Arizona.
In order to get a license to open a dispensary, a request needs to be submitted to ADHS. The application fee costs $5.000.Licenses afro dispensaries are also renewed annually and the fee is set at $1.000.
Dispensary agents must be given a registry identification card by the ADHS in order to be able to become volunteers. There are rules in regards to this as well: the volunteer must be over the age of 21 and meet the requirements stated by the ADHS. Volunteers also need to pay a $150 application fee.
Fines for Illegal Possession of Marijuana
Due to the fact that marijuana is not decriminalized for recreational use in Arizona, there are some severe consequences for individuals who are caught in possession. This is regarded as a serious offense in Arizona and it can be classified as a misdemeanor of class 1 if the person has not had a history of drug possession.
Possessing over 4 pounds of marijuana might lead to some serious charges as it is considered a felony. If marijuana is imported in the state of Arizona illegally, it is classed as 2 class felony and jail time is likely inevitable.
As you can conclude yourself, the cannabis laws in Arizona are quite strict. They are even very strict even for medical users which can be a real burden for the people who really are in need.