While Arizonans have had more than a year to get used to legalized recreational marijuana laws in the state, many remain unaware of some of the legal changes that have accompanied its legalization. People need to understand the effect of recreational marijuana on various criminal laws and the differences between the laws surrounding recreational vs. medical marijuana.
Even though it is legal for adults 21 and up to possess and consume small amounts of marijuana, people can still be charged with marijuana offenses if they do not follow the laws.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Shah Law Firm can help you understand these laws and what you should avoid preventing yourself from being charged with a marijuana-related crime in 2022.
How Legalized Recreational Marijuana Laws have Changed in Arizona?
During the 2020 election, Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, which resulted in the legalization of recreational marijuana. This bill came 10 years after voters passed Proposition 203 in the Nov. 2010 election, which legalized medical marijuana. Like the earlier medical marijuana law, Proposition 207 caused numerous changes to how marijuana possession is treated in the state.
Before recreational marijuana was legalized, people caught with any amount of marijuana under two pounds could be charged with a class 6 felony under ARS 13-3405. However, Proposition 207 created a new chapter in Title 36 of the Arizona Revised Statutes called the Responsible Adult Use of Marijuana.
This chapter includes multiple statutes that govern the recreational use of marijuana, including where it can be used, who can use it, the amounts that people can legally possess, and others.
Under ARS 36-2852, for example, adults ages 21 and older can legally possess up to six plants, five grams of marijuana concentrate, or one ounce of cannabis.
However, if you possess more than the above-listed legal amounts of marijuana, you can still face charges as follows:
- More than one but less than 2.5 ounces as a first offense – Civil offense with a fine of $100 under ARS 36-2853
- More than one but less than 2.5 ounces as a second offense – Petty offense that could result in eight hours of mandatory drug education
- More than one but less than 2.5 ounces as a third offense – Class 1 misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail
The Arizona marijuana laws are different if you are a certified medical marijuana user.
If you are caught with more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana but less than two pounds, you can still face Class 6 felony charges under ARS 13-3405. There are also restrictions on where you can smoke marijuana. Under these new laws, you are technically not allowed to smoke it in open public areas. While Arizonans can now legally grow marijuana plants, you must also follow the restrictions.