Arizona Marijuana Laws

Arizona is a state that has a back-and-forth history with marijuana. According to the current state of affairs, Arizona medical laws allow medical marijuana for certain prescribed debilitating medical conditions, but recreational marijuana is strictly prohibited. 

2024 Update! Go to the end of this article for the current legal position for the use of and possession of Cannabis in Alabama at the start of 2024.

Arizona’s neighboring state Colorado is fairly lenient when it comes to marijuana laws. However, Arizona is known to have some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country.

Back in 1996, Proposition 200 was approved with a fair majority of 65% votes. It came about as a basic drug reform that allowed for the use of medical cannabis with a due doctor’s prescription. However, this move was repealed by the state legislature just a few months after the approval.

Again, the move was further rejected by voters through a veto referendum that was passed in 1998; it came to be called Proposition 300. Even still, the medical marijuana provision of the proposition remained ineffective because of a certain flaw in the legal terminology. In the proposition, according to several controversies, the word “prescribe” was used while the appropriate usage was “recommend.”

Later there was Proposition 202 which was forwarded in the year 2002, meant to legalize the use of medical marijuana. However, it failed badly with just 42.7% of votes.

In 2010, Proposition 203 was forwarded, again meant to legalize the use of medical marijuana, which passed with a narrow margin of just 50.2% votes. Later in 2012, the Arizona legislature passed yet another law that prohibited marijuana from being used on the premises of college campuses, which again was ruled out in 2018 by the Arizona Supreme Court, stating that the rule was unconstitutional.

recreational marijuana still stands illegal

Thus, medical marijuana came to be legalized with several clauses to prevent misuse.

Coming to recreational marijuana, in 2016 Proposition 205 was forwarded to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. However, it failed with just 48.7% of votes. There were also some noteworthy contributors that affected the failure of the proposition.

Thus, recreational marijuana still stands illegal in the state.

With the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, the residents of Arizona have been embracing the drug and since then and over 122 licensed dispensaries opened up in the state.

As per the Arizona marijuana laws, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was implemented, according to which the possession and personal use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every week is permissible for qualifying patients with a written certification by a state-licensed physician.

The written certification should validate the medical condition of the patient and should also state that medical marijuana will be used to alleviate the symptoms the patient is suffering from. Some conditions normally recognized by the Arizona marijuana laws include glaucoma, cancer, AIDS/HIV, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C and PTSD.

Such a qualifying patient will be issued a valid identification card by the Arizona government showing proof of eligibility for the Arizona medical marijuana program.

As long as a person has the valid ID card issued by the government, they can also purchase marijuana from any of the state-run dispensaries in Arizona. Consistent with the possession limits, up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every week is permissible for purchase by a qualifying patient

The dispensaries normally operate from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. These hours of operation have been prescribed by the government and are not likely to be changed or altered soon.

Coming to consumption regulations, a qualifying patient with a legitimate ID card is legally allowed to consume marijuana. However, smoking marijuana is allowed only in private premises away from the public eye. Smoking is also prohibited across public transportation facilities.

It is also not permissible to consume medical marijuana while at a dispensary. It is considered as public property, and if such practice is found being engaged in by anyone, the dispensary stands the risk of losing its license.

penalty for the possession of marijuana

Violation and Penalty

The penalty for the possession of marijuana is dependent on several factors, including the amount or weight of marijuana possessed. As such, the possession of marijuana in general is as charged as felony, with varying classes depending on the amount of marijuana.

Possession of marijuana below two pounds will be considered as class 3, 4, 5 or 6 felonies if found to be imported, personally produced or meant for sale, or meant for personal use respectively. Similar charges will be pressed for marijuana possession between two and four pounds as well as more than four pounds.


Penalties for possession include steep fines and jail times. However, the person will be allowed a chance to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor with the help of a lawyer and also attend a diversion program.

Additionally, there are also chances to be placed on probation, accompanied by fines or community service hours to be completed, as assigned by the court.

Update: 2024

Proposition 207 Act Passage

From Norml: “Voters in Arizona passed Prop 207, a statewide ballot initiative legalizing the possession, use, and commercial sale of marijuana for adults. The Act permits those age 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and directs revenue from retail cannabis sales to fund various public education and safety programs. Adults may cultivate up to six plants for non-commercial purposes in a private residence. The law took effect on November 30, 2020.”

Prop 207 also legalized  government permitted commercial sales of cannabis products for adults and the possession and sale of paraphenalia needed to use different cannabis products.

Penalties for Personal Possession and Use

You can go to the NORML website for restrictions and penalties applying to trafficking, sales or non-personal use. The following information concerns personal use and possession:

The passage of Prop 207 softened the law concerning personal possession of cannabis or marijuana, so a small quantity, over 1 oz, will not attract jail time and a lenient fine is the likely penalty, if it is not more than 2.5 ounces. 

If you are under 21 and are caught with any cannabis on you, then there is a 3 strike increase of penalty severity with a civil penalty for a first offense, petty offense for a second offense, and class 1 misdemeanor for a third offense.

For adults, use in a public area is classified as a petty offense with a small fine, maximum $300.

The use of cannabis products in a private setting or home is legal in Arizona where possession of a small quantity is allowed with 1 ounce being the legal limit.

Possession for personal use of more than one ounce, but less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana is a petty offense punishable by a maximum fine of $300.

If you have more than 2.5 ounces on you, then watch out!! Possession for personal use of 2.5 ounces to 2 pounds of marijuana is a felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 6 months, a maximum sentence of 1.5 years, and a maximum fine of $150,000. The amount of jail time and the size of the fine would be presumably determined by how much a person had in their possession above 2.5 ounces.


Under the Prop 207 Act, adults may cultivate up to six plants in a private residence for private use. An adult may transfer up to 6 plants to another adult as long as there is no remuneration and the transfer is not advertised or promoted to the public. No more than 12 plants is permitted at a single residence where two or more individuals are over age 21.

Producing more than 6 plants and up to 2 pounds of marijuana is a felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 9 months, a maximum sentence of 2 years, and a maximum fine of $150,000.

Concentrates, Hashish and Hashish Oil

With Prop 207, and the commercial sale of marijuana for adults, 21 or older can possess up to five grams of concentrates. Possession for personal use of more than five grams but less than 12.5 grams of concentrates is a petty offense punishable by a maximum fine of $300.

Beware! Possession for personal use of more than 12.5 grams of concentrates is a felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 1 year, a maximum sentence of 3.75 years, and a maximum fine of $150,000.

New Conclusion, 2024

The Prop 207 Act, in effect from November 30, 2020, has made it easier for Arizona residents and visitors to possess and consume small quanitities of cannabis products recreationally in private, including concentrates, without fear of prosecution.  Penalties are light for small amounts above the allowed holding, but large amounts could get you into serious trouble.

Arizona also has medical cannabis laws in place that may give special access to specific products under medical supervision for different medical issues.

Arizona has also cautiously entered the regulated commercial sales area for cannabis products as another initiative provided by Prop 207 that should keep expanding easier access to good quality products produced by responsible, licenced businesses for Arizona residents.

Be sure to check with the Arizona government office about what is legal, and the county municipal office in the area where you are, just to be on the safe side. You can also see more details about what is legal in Arizona on the NORML website.

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