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On November 3, Arizona residents approved Proposition 207, effectively legalizing recreational marijuana and making Arizona the 13th state to pass such a measure. This is welcome news to potential medical marijuana patients who have struggled with accessibility in the past and those interested in trying marijuana for purely recreational reasons. However, despite its new status, several regulations still apply to the sale, purchase, and consumption of marijuana. That is why Arizona residents must be well-informed on the subject before making a trip to the nearest dispensary.
One of the first questions that might come to mind is what the word “legalized” means. It’s important to remember that despite this newest change in Arizona, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In most cases concerning marijuana, law enforcement officials will defer to the laws set by individual states; however, some situations would open you to federal prosecution. One such scenario would be the transportation of marijuana across state lines. Carrying an illicit substance across the border crosses the line into federal jurisdiction. Furthermore, the law does not differentiate between recreational and medical use, so possession of a medical marijuana card would not protect you from facing charges.
After the proposition passed, it effectively made the consumption and possession of marijuana legal for adults in Arizona over the age of 21 up to the approved amounts. However, to sell marijuana, dispensaries are required to have the appropriate license for recreational sales. This meant that for some time, recreational users in Arizona could have marijuana but were unable to purchase any.
Medical marijuana dispensaries were given the ability to seek a dual license, allowing them to continue the sale of medical marijuana while expanding their offerings to include recreational users. Because of the established infrastructure such locations possessed, many were able to get the approval necessary, and sales of recreational marijuana in Arizona began on January 22, 2021.
Before the legalization of recreational marijuana, there were multiple forms of it available for medical use, and the options are just as diverse now. When people think of marijuana, they often picture it in the form of a dried herb, which can then be rolled up with special papers and smoked. The truth is that there are plenty of other options when it comes to the consumption of marijuana. In fact, in Arizona, it isn’t even the most popular method.
Instead, medical marijuana users have previously shown a preference for edible products. While edible marijuana comes in a variety of forms, soft chews are a common example. These are often flavored and sweet, making them a far more palatable method of consumption. In addition to edibles, available products include concentrates, topicals, and more.
Those people who possess a medical marijuana card can continue to carry out their transactions in the same manner as before. For recreational users, the first step is ensuring that you find a location with the appropriate license. While many medical marijuana dispensaries have obtained the licenses necessary to expand their services, there are still locations that have not done so.
Once the appropriate dispensary has been identified, customers will be asked to present a valid ID. This is because recreational marijuana can only be sold to those over 21. As such, your age must be verified before completing any transactions.
Before you come in for recreational cannabis, here are some rules to be aware of:
To learn more about the state law on recreational use, see AZ Revised Statutes, Title 36, chapter 28.2, article 36-2854, section 7.
Note, there are still some advantages of having your medical card. If you want to buy cannabis in concentrated form, such as with hash or oils, the limit is lowered to 5 grams for recreational shoppers. Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients are allowed to buy and have up to 2.5 ounces. Illegal possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or 12.5 grams of concentrate, has been downgraded to a petty offense; however, that doesn’t mean it is without consequence. Those caught in such a situation will likely be charged with a fine, though the amount has yet to be determined.
With this in mind, you may be wondering: “How much marijuana can I buy at once?” In this case, the law is fairly straightforward for recreational users. The legal purchasing limits are the same as the possession limits, meaning that you can buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 5 grams of concentrate, or 100 mg of edibles.
In addition to possessing the finished product, Arizona residents can also grow their own marijuana plants per state regulations. For starters, the minimum age to grow marijuana is also 21. Assuming you are the appropriate age, those who live alone can grow up to six plants, while households with multiple adults can grow up to 12. Medical marijuana patients who live over 25 miles away from any dispensaries can also grow up to 12 plants, even if they live alone.
Generally speaking, consumption of marijuana should be done in the privacy of your home if you wish to avoid any potential legal troubles. Smoking is explicitly prohibited in public spaces, regardless of whether you are a recreational or medical user. This is defined as an act involving lighting with fire, which means that vaping is not technically covered under statewide law. However, local ordinances may include additional restrictions that could prevent you from vaping marijuana in public. For instance, in 2019, Mesa, Arizona, prohibited all vaping in public spaces within city limits.
Another exception involves consuming marijuana in edible form but is only applicable to medical marijuana patients. Those using marijuana for medicinal purposes may consume edibles in public as long as they do not operate any motor vehicles.
While simply having marijuana in your system is not enough to automatically get you in trouble, drivers exhibiting signs of being impaired while under the influence of marijuana can still be charged with a DUI. Observed erratic behavior on the road and a failed field sobriety test can be considered sufficient evidence of intoxication to the level of endangerment, which is enough to warrant legal consequences, which may include the suspension of your license, fines, and even jail time. This applies to both recreational and medical users.
While marijuana is certainly more accessible than ever, the sale of marijuana products is a highly regulated process, and sellers must have a valid license to do so. This means that selling marijuana products to a friend or neighbor is still strictly prohibited, and selling to a minor could get you in legal trouble on a federal level.
Additionally, employers have the right to impose their own restrictions regarding recreational use in the workplace. Choosing to violate any such restrictions could result in the loss of employment.
Recent legal developments regarding the use of marijuana in Arizona have opened all sorts of new possibilities for vendors in the state, us included. As a result, Zen Leaf Dispensaries in AZ are now recreational. This means that our extensive selection of high-quality marijuana strains, including exclusively patented products from our branded partners, is now more widely accessible than ever.
Learn more about the current legal status of cannabis in Arizona on our state resource hub.