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Arizona marijuana laws

Is marijuana legal in Arizona?

Current legality status

medical


Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.

Marijuana is only legal in Arizona for medical use, and there are harsh penalties for people found guilty of non-medical use of cannabis.

Here is a short list of some of the penalties:

OffenseAmountImprisonment
Possession of MarijuanaLess than 2lbs4 Months – 2 Years
Sale of MarijuanaLess than 2lbs1 Year – 3.75 Years
Cultivation/ManufactureLess than 2lbs6 Months – 2.5 Years
Hash and ConcentratesPossession or Use1 Year – 3.75 Years
ParaphernaliaPossession or Advertising4 Months – 2 Years
Involving a Minor 3 Years – 12.5 Years

Marijuana legalization in Arizona

A poll conducted in November 2019 by OH Predictive Insights found record levels of support for recreational cannabis legalization in Arizona. Specifically, the poll found, “Fifty-four percent of registered voters in the state approve of the legalization while only 33 percent oppose the idea.” They found the highest levels of support among Democrats and those under 55, and that Republicans and voters over 55 had the strongest opposition to cannabis legalization.

That poll is great news for Smart and Safe Arizona, who qualified an initiative for the 2020 ballot which seeks to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona. If you are a voter in Arizona who supports cannabis legalization, this is your chance to make it a reality for your state, and you should show that support by voting in November.

Register to vote in Arizona using this online form:

Arizona medical marijuana laws

Arizona has come a long way in the decade since they legalized medical cannabis use in 2010, though there still is much work to do, primarily around new testing requirements (the first in the state’s history). As a state that sits on the US-Mexico border, Arizona is no stranger to the spillover effects of rampant drug cartel violence, and their harsh drug laws and trepidation toward cannabis reflect that reality.

Medical marijuana patients in Arizona and their designated caregivers are only allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time and may only obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in a 14-day period. While that limit may be sufficient for many patients, for those seeking to ingest megadoses of full spectrum cannabis oil for cancer, that limit may not be nearly enough.

A debate has been raging in Arizona for years around what types of cannabis products were legalized by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Some overzealous sheriffs have alleged that the AMMA only legalized flower and have been busting medical patients for possessing cannabis concentrates that are within legal possession limits. Thankfully, the Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that the AMMA legalized all parts and preparations of the cannabis plant.

In addition to laws specifically regulating the use of medical marijuana in Arizona, there are numerous other laws on the books which impact the industry and cannabis patients. Arizona has laws protecting the environment and restricting advertising, which apply to cannabis businesses just like any other business.

For patients, public consumption laws that were written during the days of marijuana prohibition are still on the books and still apply even if with a medical card.

Got your medical card? Find a Dispensary in Arizona

Are you a medical cannabis patient in Arizona looking for a dispensary in your area? Check out Leafly’s dispensary finder.

Arizona qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has a fairly short list of medical conditions that can qualify a person to be able to use medical cannabis, but most of the major conditions that people seek relief from are on the list. They include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • A chronic or debilitating condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
    • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
    • Severe and chronic pain
    • Severe nausea
    • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
    • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

For more information on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Legalization, refer to the AZ Leg. 36-2801.

How to get a medical marijuana card in Arizona

The first step to get a medical cannabis card in Arizona is to consult a doctor, which does not have to be your primary care physician. Arizona allows allopathic (MD), osteopathic (DO), homeopathic MD(H) or DO(H), and naturopathic (NMD or ND) physicians who have a relationship with the patient, and may write certifications for medical marijuana as long as they have a valid Arizona license to practice.

In order to get your medical cannabis card you will need a current copy of your medical records from the last year which documents your qualifying condition. If you do not yet have documentation showing your qualifying condition, you will need to make an appointment with an Arizona-licensed physician to obtain a formal diagnosis.

Since not all doctors are comfortable talking about or recommending cannabis to their patients, it can be helpful to request a copy of your medical records before asking your primary care physician for a cannabis recommendation. That way, if they say no, you already have your medical records to take to another physician.

It is always ideal to try your primary care doctor first, but be prepared and don’t let it discourage you if they turn you down because any physician who meets the ADHS’s criteria can look at your medical records documenting your qualifying condition.

The application itself must be submitted in a PDF format and has to be submitted online. You will need:

  • Arizona photo ID issued after 1996
  • Passport-type photo (2×2 inches)
  • Pay a $150 application fee ($75 if you are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Additionally, there will be processing fees from the physician’s office, which can range between $150 and $300.

After the ADHS receives the application it can take up to two weeks to process, and then potentially up to 10 more days to receive your card in the mail.

There are special rules that cover patients who are minors. See the ADHS’s page for more information about getting your medical cannabis card in Arizona.

Does Arizona accept out of state medical cards?

Arizona has extremely limited medical reciprocity. While the state recognizes out-of-state medical cannabis authorizations—meaning out-of-state patients are still patients in the eyes of the police—they cannot go to dispensaries in Arizona.

When does my Arizona medical card expire?

The passage of last year’s SB 1494 extended the expiration date of medical cannabis ID cards to two years from the date issued, rather than just one year. These have an additional requirement that patients need in order to renew a medical cannabis card at least thirty days before the expiration date.

Arizona marijuana growing laws

While Arizona does allow for patients to grow their own cannabis, like every other part of their medical marijuana program, it has some major caveats. Patients can only cultivate their own cannabis if they live more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary, and even then, they may only cultivate up to twelve plants, with no distinction made between immature and mature plants.

The main question patient-cultivators in Arizona ask is, “What happens when a dispensary moves within 25 miles of my home?” Unfortunately, the Arizona Department of Health Services does not offer a clear answer.

Arizona public consumption laws

In Arizona, it is a class 6 felony to consume cannabis in public (so long as the weight possessed is below 2 pounds), which is punishable by a prison term between 2 and 33 years.

While there is an exemption for medical patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces, there is no exemption for public consumption, which means medical patients should consume their cannabis in the privacy of their own home.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) further states that “Any nursing care institution, hospice, assisted living center, assisted living facility, assisted living home, residential care institution, adult day health care facility or adult foster care home may adopt reasonable restrictions on the use of marijuana by residents or persons receiving inpatient services.”

Additionally, employers can prohibit employees from ingesting marijuana in the workplace or working while under the influence of cannabis.

Arizona cannabis DUI laws

It is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of any drug or alcohol in all states. However, a registered medical marijuana patient shall not be considered under the influence solely for having cannabis metabolites in their system.

By operating a vehicle in Arizona, a person gives consent to a test of their blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance. A person may refuse to submit to a test, but their license may be suspended or denied for 12 months. A person also has the right to consult an attorney before submitting to a chemical test, or after being taken into custody.

The penalties for intoxicated driving on any substance in Arizona are severe, starting at a minimum of 10 days in prison and subsequent violations resulting in potentially two years in prison and a $150,000 fine.

Marijuana DUIImprisonmentMax Fine
First Offense10 daysUp to $1,250
Second Offense (within seven years)90 daysUp to $3,000
Third Offense (within seven years)120 days – 2 yearsUp to $150,000

Arizona cannabis testing regulations

Since medical cannabis was first legalized in 2010, Arizona has not had any testing regulations on the books. That is all about to change this November thanks to last year’s SB 1494, which will require cannabis dispensaries to test products for the first time.

Specifically, SB 1494 requires testing for “microbial contamination, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth regulators and residual solvents and [potency].”

The testing will be done by 3rd party testing labs licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. A new draft of the regulations created after SB 1494 was passed and clarifies that “microbial contaminants” will include two mycotoxins: Aflatoxin (B1, B2, G1, and G2) and Ochratoxin A. That new draft also clarified that residual solvent testing is likely to include “butanes, heptane, hexanes, pentanes, and xylenes.”

Common questions about marijuana legalization in Arizona

Does Arizona have recreational or decriminalized cannabis?

Arizona has not decriminalized marijuana possession or legalized recreational use, but Proposition 207 (Smart and Safe Arizona) will be on the ballot in November 2020 and could legalize the adult use of marijuana in Arizona for the first time.

Can medical patients and caregivers grow their own medicine in Arizona?

Yes, but only if they are more than 25 miles from the closest dispensary, and they may only grow up to twelve plants total at a time.

How much cannabis can a patient legally possess in Arizona?

A patient can possess up to 2.5 ounces at one time, with no distinction between edibles, concentrates, or flower. Additionally, patients may only purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medicine every 14 days.

What types of cannabis products are legal for medical use in Arizona?

A recent Supreme Court ruling in Arizona has finally answered this question, and definitively, the AMMA legalized “all” parts of the cannabis plant, not some or certain preparations. This means all types of cannabis products are now unquestionably legal for medical use in the state of Arizona.

Previously, some overzealous sheriffs have busted medical patients for possessing cannabis concentrates that were within the legal possession limits by alleging the AMMA only legalized flower.

Can you get a medical card in Arizona if you have a felony?

While public consumption of marijuana can result in a felony, it does not appear that a felony conviction will prevent someone from getting a medical cannabis card in Arizona.

What are the medical program’s qualifying conditions?

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • A chronic or debilitating condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
    • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
    • Severe and chronic pain
    • Severe nausea
    • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
    • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

Learn more about marijuana legalization in Arizona

Here’s some additional resources, news, and references for Arizona marijuana policy.

Keep up with the latest news about legalization in Arizona

You’ll want to keep current on Arizona fast-changing laws by bookmarking Leafly politics and signing up for our newsletter.

Post last updated Sept. 5, 2020