Adult-use cannabis is legal in Arizona thanks to the 60 – 40 majority of voters who passed the Smart and Safe Arizona initiative during the 2020 general election. Here’s everything you need to know about legally consuming cannabis in the Grand Canyon State.
Cannabis Possession and Purchasing Limits in Arizona
According to the Smart and Safe Arizona initiative, adults aged 21 and over may legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Cannabis concentrates can make up to five grams of that total quantity.
Cannabis can be legally purchased from licensed cannabis establishments. Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2010, so established medical dispensaries will be the first legal places where adult-use consumers can make their cannabis purchases. The state will limit each county to two cannabis establishment licenses and no more than one cannabis establishment per ten state-registered pharmacies.
Arizona’s Cannabis Consumption Rules
The new law limits cannabis consumption to private residences. The initiative prohibits smoking cannabis in public spaces including sidewalks, parks, and businesses. Property owners have the right to prohibit cannabis smoking on their properties, so renters will need to receive authorization from their landlords before smoking cannabis in their homes.
Employers have the right to keep their workspaces cannabis-free and can use require drug testing and act on the results of that testing at their discretion. The initiative does not prohibit cannabis cafes, establishments where people can socially consume cannabis. Such establishments already exist in Arizona, so it is likely that more will pop up as the recreational industry evolves.
All cannabis products will be legally available for purchase, but certain limits exist to protect consumers from the overconsumption of THC and to prevent minors from being exposed to cannabis. Edibles servings are limited to 10 mg THC per serving. Dispensaries are prohibited from selling products that look as if they are being advertised to children.
For example, gummies that are shaped like insects or fruits are prohibited and marketing strategies cannot use cartoons or toys. Additionally, all cannabis products must be sold in child-proof packaging.
Home Growing in Arizona
It is legal for adults aged 21 and over to grow their own cannabis. Legally aged adults can grow up to 6 cannabis plants. If more than one adult lives in the home, the initiative limits each household to a maximum of 12 cannabis plants. The cannabis plants must be enclosed in a secure facility such as a room, shed, or greenhouse and obscured from public view.
When does Arizona’s Recreational Cannabis Laws Go into Effect?
It’s going to take a few months for the regulated industry to be ready to sell cannabis to legally-aged adults. However, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act allows individuals who are 21 and older to grow and possess their own pot.
Does that mean you can start growing cannabis and walking around with weed in your pocket today? Legally speaking, it’s not the safest idea yet. But practically speaking, it’s not the riskiest one either. Prop 207 was passed by voters, but it has not yet gone into effect.
The initiative must be approved by the state to be implemented, and that won’t happen until November 30. If you’re worried that the initiative might not make it after all, know that the 1998 Voter Protection Act requires a three-quarters majority vote for voter-approved ballot initiatives to be changed. Given that restriction, it is highly likely that by December 1, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act will be in effect. Until then, you could face a felony charge for possessing or growing cannabis without a medical marijuana card.
On the other hand, the risk of facing that charge in the interim has decreased. One of the provisions of Arizona’s recreational cannabis law is that the state can expunge or immediately dismiss your records and case if you have a low-level cannabis conviction and charge. These expungement measures make it improbable that law enforcement and prosecutors will spend their resources pursuing cannabis possession cases between now and November 30 if prosecutors are going to drop those charges by then anyway.
Medical Marijuana in Arizona
Arizona’s medical marijuana program is still intact. There are two significant changes created by Arizona’s recreational cannabis laws that will affect medical marijuana patients:
- Patients can now grow their own cannabis regardless of where they live. Arizona’s medical marijuana laws only authorize patients who lived more than 25 miles away to grow their own weed. However, the recreational law authorizes all adults aged 21 and over to grow up to 6 plants, with a maximum of 12 per household. This makes it possible for all medical marijuana patients who are at least 21 to grow their own medicine.
- More traffic in medical marijuana dispensaries. Until the recreational industry is licensed and operational, cannabis patients will be joined by recreational consumers in making their purchases at medical marijuana dispensaries.
Adult and minor patients who have one of the following medical diagnoses may be eligible to participate in Arizona’s medical marijuana program:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
In order to enroll in Arizona’s medical marijuana program, all patients must receive written certification from an Arizona-registered medical doctor, osteopath, homeopath, or naturopath verifying the eligible diagnosis. Adults aged 18 and over may apply for a medical marijuana card on their own, but any patient under 18 must do so with consent of their legal guardian.
It costs $150 to apply for a medical marijuana card in Arizona. Patients who are enrolled in SNAP are eligible to pay a discounted application fee of $75.