Flagstaff lawyer discusses ARIZONA MARIJUANA LAWS…

Is possessing marijuana a felony in Arizona? Does the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act change anything? When does the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act go into effect? Can I smoke marijuana in public if I have a

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In Arizona, it is still illegal to possess marijuana as of right now. Arizona drug laws are accompanied by strict penalties, often including prison sentences. In fact, Arizona’s prison population has grown steadily and significantly from the late 1990’s to now. Arizonans spend way too much money on their prisons, which are overflowing with drug offenders. Arizona’s spending on the Arizona prison system (Arizona Department of Corrections) has increased by 100 percent, from $409 million in 1997 to $817 million in 2007.


Let’s talk about the felony charge of possession or use of marijuana. Under Arizona felony law, you “shall not knowingly poessess or use marijuana.” See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-3405(A)(1). But what kind of felony possession is it? Here’s how it breaks down under Arizona drug laws:

Less than 2 pounds of marijuana – class 6 felony
2 to 4 pounds of marijuana – class 5 felony
4 pounds or more of marijuana – class 4 felony


Each class of felony gets more serious based on a higher net weight of marijuana. If you are accused of possessing marijuana for sale, the felonies are even more serious! In case you don’t already know… here’s how Arizona criminal law defines “marijuana”: “Marijuana” means all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, from which the resin has not been extracted, whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.

Marijuana does not include the mature stalks of such plant or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-3401(19). The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is a game-changer in Arizona.

It is still very limited, but basically, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act says that anyone who follows the strict requirements (see here) can’t be penalized for the medical use of marijuana. One such restriction is that you cannot smoke marijuana in public or on public transportation.

Here’s the schedule of major events relating to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act:

April 14, 2011: Arizona Department of Health Services begins to accept applications for qualified patients and caregivers

June 1-30, 2011: Arizona Department of Health Services accepts applications for initial dispensary registration certificates

Mid-August, 2011: Arizona Department of Health Services selects and awards dispensary registration certificates

January, 2012: Arizona Department of Health Services accepts petitions for additional debilitating medical conditions

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