Arizona Marijuana Possession Attorney (ARS 13-3405)


Marijuana possession laws have been a subject of controversy for many years in Arizona. The state has gone through significant changes in its marijuana laws over the past decade. In this article, we will explore the current marijuana possession laws in Arizona.

Arizona has a complex history with marijuana laws. The state first criminalized marijuana in 1931, making it illegal to possess, use, or sell marijuana. However, in 2010, Arizona voters passed Proposition 203, which allowed for the use of medical marijuana. The law went into effect in 2011 and allowed patients with qualifying medical conditions to purchase, possess, and use marijuana.

In 2020, Arizona voters approved Proposition 207, which legalized recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know if you’re being charged with possession of marijuana. If you need help with your case, we offer free initial consultations with one of our experienced Mesa criminal defense attorneys. Call us at to get your free case review.

Current Possession Laws in Arizona

Under Arizona law, it is illegal to possess marijuana unless you have a valid medical marijuana card or you are over the age of 21 and possess no more than one ounce of marijuana. According to A.R.S. 36-2853(A), possession of more than one ounce but less than two and a half ounces is a petty offense, punishable by a fine of up to $300.

Possession of more than two and a half ounces but less than two pounds is a class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Possession of at least two pounds but less than four pounds is a class 5 felony, punishable by up to two and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Additionally, A.R.S. 13-3405 addresses the penalties for possessing marijuana with the intent to sell, produce, and transport for sales. These penalties are far more severe than simple possession.

Finally, it is illegal to possess marijuana in any form on a drug free school zone, regardless of whether the possessor is a student or an adult. If caught, you could receive the same penalty had the violation not occurred within a drug free school zone, except that the presumptive, minimum and maximum sentence shall be increased by one year.

Related: is marijuana legal in Arizona?

Smoking Marijuana in Public Spaces

Arizona’s recreational marijuana law does not permit the use of marijuana in “a public place or open space.”

Under Arizona Revised Statutes A.R.S. 13-3415, it is considered a petty offense to smoke or consume marijuana in a public place. A person who violates this law may be subject to a fine of up to $300.

It is also worth noting that the definition of “public place” in Arizona law is quite broad. ARS 36-601.01 says this means any enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted, including airports, banks, bars, common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums or other multifamily housing facilities, educational facilities, entertainment facilities or venues, health care facilities, hotel and motel common areas, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, restaurants, retail food production and marketing establishments, retail service establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports facilities, theaters, and waiting rooms. A private residence is not a “public place” unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

Driving Under the Influence

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether the marijuana is for medical or recreational use. A.R.S. 28-1381 makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and this includes marijuana. A person is considered under the influence if they have a detectable amount of marijuana or its active metabolites in their system.

It is also illegal to have an open container of marijuana or a device used for smoking marijuana in a vehicle. This would include bags that have broken seals or potential consumption evidence.

Penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are nearly identical to those for driving under the influence of alcohol. A first offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent offenses are more severe, with penalties increasing for each offense.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2011. Patients with qualifying medical conditions can apply for a medical marijuana card, which allows them to purchase, possess, and use marijuana for medical purposes. Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic pain.

Patients with a valid medical marijuana card can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces may result in receiving a class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Employment & Marijuana

Employers in Arizona can still enforce drug-free workplace policies, and the legalization of marijuana does not change that. Employers can still drug test employees and refuse to hire or terminate employees who test positive for marijuana.

Expungement Is Now Legal in Arizona, With Limitations

Arizona law did not previously support expungement of drug convictions. Now, under the new law, certain marijuana convictions can be expunged. Primarily, those who are eligible were convicted of possessing, consuming, or transporting two and one-half ounces or less of marijuana. Call us now at (480) 467-4370 to schedule your free consultation to see if we can have your old marijuana charges expunged.

What to Do If You’re Facing Charges

If you’ve been charged with any sort of marijuana crime in Arizona, a resourceful defense can work to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. At JacksonWhite Law, we have decades of experience with all types of drug crimes, and have secured successful case results for thousands of marijuana possession clients. You can learn more about our Mesa drug defense attorneys and how we’ve helped thousands of drug defense clients over the years.

We’ve helped first-time offenders and those with previous charges handle the complex legal process with ease. To see how we can help you next, contact us now.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.


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