Possession of marijuana is one of the most common cases we handle at JacksonWhite Law.
In Arizona, the laws on possession are clear: A.R.S. § 13-3405(A)(1) states that you cannot “knowingly possess or use marijuana.”
The only exception is when it’s legally prescribed for medical conditions, which went into effect in 2010 with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
A.R.S. § 13-3405 also states that you cannot produce, transport, transfer or sell marijuana, which would all fall under possession.
So unless you’ve been lawfully prescribed medical marijuana in Arizona, possessing any “usable” amount of weed is considered a crime.
What You Need to Know
If you’re facing charges related to marijuana possession or use, it’s important to know several key facts about this offense, including:
- potential penalties and punishments
- possible defenses for your case
- frequently asked questions
- what to do if you’re facing possession charges
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.
Arizona Marijuana Laws & Penalties
There are essentially four laws that govern the use and possession of marijuana in Arizona. They state that marijuana cannot be:
- Used or possessed
- Possessed in order to sell
- Transported within, or imported into, Arizona
The penalties for marijuana possession are determined by several factors, including the weight of the marijuana possessed.
Related read: is marijuana legal in Arizona?
Penalties & Punishments
The statutes divide penalties into three categories:
- under two pounds
- two to four pounds
- over four pounds
So how much weed is a felony in Arizona?
As it stands, any amount can be a felony charge, and the felony class depends on the circumstances of your case.
Possession of under two pounds of marijuana can be a:
- Class 6 felony if it’s found to be for personal use
- Class 4 felony if it’s for sale
- Class 5 felony if it was personally produced
- Class 3 felony if it’s transported or imported into Arizona
Possession of two to four pounds of marijuana can be a:
- Class 5 felony if it’s for personal use
- Class 3 felony if it’s for sale
- Class 4 felony if it was personally produced
- Class 2 felony if it’s transported or imported into Arizona
Possession of four or more pounds of marijuana can be a:
- Class 4 felony if it’s for personal use
- Class 2 felony if it’s for sale
- Class 3 felony if it was personally produced
- Class 2 felony if it’s transported or imported into Arizona
Fortunately, marijuana possession drug offenses can often be reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor with the help of an effective criminal lawyer.
Additionally, you may be able to attend a diversion or education program, and if completed, you may have the charge dismissed altogether.
When you participate in a diversion drug, you’ll typically have to submit to drug tests to ensure that you don’t continue to use marijuana.
Once the program is completed successfully, you have the opportunity to have the charge dismissed.
Arizona Proposition 200 prohibits first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders being sentenced to jail time, which means that you may only face incarceration after three convictions.
If there are other charges involved, however, this will affect your sentence and potential incarceration time.
In addition to a diversion program, you’ll likely be placed on probation, which has similar terms of sobriety as the program you enter.
You may be required to also pay fees and surcharges, or complete community service hours as assigned by the court.
One of the most common diversion programs is known as TASC, which is run by the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.
TASC – short for Treatment Assessment Screening Centers – is a nonprofit that provides drug testing to first-time offenders as part of a larger diversion program.
If this option is available to you, it may incur additional expenses.
Possible Defenses for Possession of Marijuana in Arizona
There are a number of possible defenses against marijuana possession charges in Arizona, many of which may result in the charges against you being dropped or dismissed.
The most popular defense against drug-related charges is that you didn’t knowingly possess the drugs in question. This is difficult (though not impossible) to argue when the drugs are in your pocket, but it’s an excellent defense when drugs are found in your vehicle or residence.
Not Possessing a Usable Amount
Arizona’s marijuana laws require a “usable amount” of marijuana in order to charge with possession. If you’re caught with a limited amount of marijuana, your attorney may argue that the amount is small enough that it doesn’t qualify as a “usable amount.”
In cases where the “unknowing possession” and “usable amount” defenses aren’t feasible, the defense strategy often shifts to arguing that your rights were infringed or denied when you were arrested.
Rights Were Infringed or Denied
An officer’s failure to recite your rights at the time of arrest is a Miranda rights violation. Even if you confessed or acknowledged possession of marijiuana, a Miranda rights violation could result in the charges against you being dropped or dismissed.
Similarly, arrested individuals who are denied an attorney may argue to have the charges against them dropped or dismissed due to denial of their right to counsel. Like Miranda rights violations, this is especially significant if you provided the police with incriminating information during interrogation.
Valid Medical Marijuana License
Of course, the easiest defense against marijuana possession charges is that you have a valid medical marijuana license. Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act allows patients to possess or use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days, so as long as you’re within those limits you cannot be charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia.
Other Factors to Consider
While Arizona law states there must be a “usable amount” of marijuana present in order to be charged with possession, the same law does not apply to drug paraphernalia.
If your possession charge also included a paraphernalia charge, but the object in question doesn’t have any usable amount of marijuana, you can still be charged with paraphernalia possession.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is weed a felony in Arizona?
According to ARS 13-3405, all instances of possession of marijuana in Arizona are technically considered a felony, even when the case involves only a small amount of weed.
However, the right legal defense can result in having your charge reduced to a misdemeanor, which can significantly improve your future outlook when it comes to employment, education, housing and the like.
What happens if you get caught with weed in Arizona?
When you’re caught with marijuana in Arizona, you’ll face possession of marijuana charges as outlined by ARS 13-3405.
Although these statutes are very clear in what constitutes possession of marijuana, you’ll have a range of outcomes depending on how you decide to move forward.
Working with an experienced marijuana attorney can help you explore the most options, and in many cases you can have your charges reduced or dismissed.
To learn more about your specific situation and what will happen if you’re convicted, call us today to get a free case review.
How much marijuana can you legally have in Arizona?
If you have a medical marijuana card, you can use or store up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days.
If you do not have a card, any amount of marijuana is considered illegal. As mentioned, the penalties for illegal possession are based on weight, so anything under two pounds is considered less serious than possessing 2-4 pounds or more than 4 pounds at a time.
To be charged with possession, there must be a “usable” amount of weed present,
Can you go to jail for marijuana possession in Arizona?
As mentioned, Arizona Proposition 200 allows first- and second-time nonviolent offenders to avoid jail time when faced with a possession of marijuana conviction.
Although the consequences of these types of convictions are still strict, the proposition allows offenders to focus on rehabilitation and improvement rather than facing immediate jail time.
To learn more about jail time, sentences and potential consequences, call us to schedule a free case review with one of our experienced drug attorneys.
What to Do If You’re Facing Charges
If you’ve been charged with marijuana possession 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.