Written by Ian van Schilfgaarde, Esq.
The Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act (commonly referred to as “Prop 200”) was an initiative approved by Arizona voters in 1996. Prop 200 is now codified under A.R.S. § 13-901.01. Prop 200 enacted a system in which people who are convicted of certain personal possession or personal use drug/paraphernalia offenses must receive treatment-based sentences that become gradually harsher based on the how many prior offenses a person has. The purpose behind Prop 200 was to provide treatment, instead of incarceration, through court supervision for substance abusers. See Text of Proposed Amendment § 2, Proposition 200, 1996 Ballot Propositions.
Generally speaking, Prop 200 requires that a person who is convicted of a first-time personal use/possession drug offense be placed on probation with no incarceration, unless the drug was methamphetamine. Terms of probation include mandatory drug treatment. The sentencing judge may also impose additional terms of probation.
A second conviction for personal use/possession of most drugs allows a judge to impose harsher terms of probation. Additional probation terms may include a jail term (up to a year), intensified drug treatment, community restitution, home detention, and more.
Prop 200 does not protect a person who is convicted of three or more personal drug use/possession offenses. A person may be otherwise eligible for probation, or it may be possible to negotiate a probation-available plea agreement, but Prop 200 does not afford automatic probation for a person who has multiple personal use/possession drug offenses.
Prop 200 does not apply in all drug cases. Below are some of the most common exceptions to Prop 200, but there are others as well.
A person who is convicted of an offense related to methamphetamine is not Prop 200 eligible. In 2006, Arizona voters passed another ballot initiative, Proposition 301, which excluded offenses related to methamphetamine from Prop 200 protections.
A person who has been accused of committing a violent crime is not Prop 200 eligible.
A person who has been convicted of two prior personal possession/use drug offenses is not Prop 200 eligible.
What Constitutes a Strike Under Prop 200?
In March of 2020, the Arizona Supreme Court, in Arizona v. Green, 459 P.3d 45 (Ariz. 2020), clarified which offenses may constitute a “strike” under Prop 200. The court held that prior drug convictions related to sales of drugs (as opposed to personal use of drugs) do not count as strikes under the law. This ruling was pivotal for people who may have a conviction related to sales of drugs and are now facing personal possession/use charges for the first or second time.
Arizona v. Green also established that a prior inchoate, or incomplete, personal possession/use offense does count as a strike under Prop 200. Inchoate offenses most commonly include attempt, conspiracy, solicitation, or facilitation.
Here is an example that illustrates the court’s ruling in Arizona v. Green. Let’s say a person stands accused of personal possession of a narcotic drug. If that person had a prior conviction for sale of marijuana, the prior conviction would not count as a first strike. If the person had a prior conviction for attempted possession of marijuana then the prior conviction would count as a first strike.
If you are charged with a personal use or possession drug offense in Arizona, your case may fall into a Prop 200 category. Our experienced attorneys are well-versed in Prop 200 and can offer you a free case evaluation.