Marijuana Is Legal In Arizona…Well, Not Really

Attorney Andrew Marcantel

Marijuana Is Legal In Arizona…Well, Not Really. Many people erroneously believe that marijuana was legalized under Prop 207 in Arizona. Of course, this is not the case. It was really just decriminalized with certain conditions. You can still get into legal trouble with marijuana in Arizona if you don’t know what the facts are concerning Prop 207.

If marijuana was truly legal, then it would be bought and sold like other legal items such as tomatoes, potatoes, or carrots for example. But this is not the case with marijuana. It is still illegal to possess, sell or buy marijuana outside the regulations set forth in Prop 207. We are going to cover all of this today in this video.

First of all, you are not allowed to have as much marijuana as you want in your possession, you are only allowed up to one ounce. That’s 28 grams of marijuana, and of that 28 grams, only 5 grams can be concentrates. Concentrates include vape cartridges, edibles, and other products that are concentrates of marijuana. There are also rules on edibles as well. The edibles cannot be anything that resembles animals, people, toys, or anything that kids might think is meant for them. There are also other restrictions and laws concerning dispensary owners, so anyone who owns a dispensary really should consult with a criminal defense attorney before doing anything.

But with the passage of Prop 207, even if you possess more than 1 ounce, as long as it is still under 2.5 ounces, it’s now a petty offense. The exception to the 1-ounce rule is for anyone who has a valid medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana patients who have a valid medical marijuana card can possess up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana, with 5 grams still being limited when it comes to concentrates. But keep in mind, in either case, if you get caught with more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana in your possession, it is a felony. This could be very serious, especially if you are charged with possession of marijuana for sale, a class 2 felony.

You can also grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal use. If you are of legal age (21 years of age or older), you are allowed up to 6 marijuana plants in your home, and if there are multiple adults in the home, you can have up to 12 marijuana plants. Keep in mind, this is 12 total plants per household, not 6 plants per adult.

Private sales of marijuana are still not allowed under Prop 207, and there are new restrictions for dispensary owners. So, even if you are licensed to sell marijuana in Arizona, you need to be careful and make sure you understand what the law is, in regards to Prop 207.

Another way you can get into big trouble with marijuana is DUI. No, you cannot consume marijuana and then get in your car and drive. If you do, you are risking a DUI, just like someone who consumes alcohol and then drives. Prop 207 does not allow you to drive impaired, nor should it. But what Prop 207 did do is require that you are in fact impaired from marijuana before you can be prosecuted for a marijuana DUI. Many people might be surprised to learn that before Prop 207, the State did not have to prove impairment beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of a marijuana DUI. Now prosecutors have to prove that you had a significant amount of marijuana in your system to impair you while driving.

But, we still have some confusion in this area because Prop 207 did not create a presumptive level of THC that would impair someone. Unlike alcohol where the presumptive level of impairment is .08% blood alcohol content in Arizona, we do not have a similar level for marijuana. Marijuana impairment is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) but we do not have a presumptive level for marijuana in Arizona. Other states such as Colorado do have a presumptive level which in Colorado’s case is 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

However, there are other studies that show different (see links below) results. One such study shows that 13.1 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) is what is required for impairment. While other studies show it’s impossible to predict “reliably” how impaired someone is simply from the nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) concentration because it depends on many different factors, such as:

  • Frequency of use
  • Metabolism
  • Body fat index
  • And other factors

So, what does this all mean? Arizona is the wild west right now in the wake of Prop 207 when it comes to marijuana DUI. As such, law enforcement and prosecutors are simply winging it when it comes to Marijuana DUI. They are not sure what constitutes marijuana impairment, so they rely on other signs of impairment such as traffic violations to make their case.

Of course, the best way to avoid a marijuana DUI is to not drive your vehicle while you are impaired. But, if you are stopped for DUI, one of the best things you can do is to just shut up. One of the best ways law enforcement has to get a DUI conviction is through confessions. Many times people get tricked into a confession through the officer’s small talk, things like:

• Where are you going?
• Where are you coming from?
• Is there marijuana in the vehicle?
• Did you consume any marijuana today?

You should never answer any of these questions. Many people confess to consuming marijuana after the passage of Prop 207 because they think they have done nothing wrong. They may say something like, “yes, I smoked some earlier, but I am fine now.” You can expect that you will be asked to step out of the vehicle if you confess to using marijuana before driving. You can also expect that you will be asked to perform field sobriety tests, things like stand on one leg, touch your finger to your nose, walk a straight line, etc. As a defense attorney, I am telling you are not required to take those field sobriety tests. You should just shut up and ask to phone a lawyer. This is my advice to stay out of trouble.

Note: everything discussed in this video applies only to adults who are 21 years of age or older. Nothing mentioned in this video applies if you are a minor. In fact, Prop 207 adds new penalties for minors who are caught in possession of marijuana.

If you are arrested for marijuana DUI or you just have questions about marijuana laws, please call our office at 480-755-7110 or contact us online.

The Attorneys for Freedom law firm has a long history of advocating for marijuana legalization, not just sort of decriminalizing it, as in Prop 207, even though it’s a step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go until we get to real freedom in this area, and until that time, you are going to need a good criminal defense attorney by your side. An affordable way to do this is by joining our Attorneys on Retainer program.

Links:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/06/23/marijuana-drivers/29155165

https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/02/09/466147956/why-its-so-hard-to-make-a-solid-test-for-driving-while-stoned

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