Is weed legal in Arizona? That may not be the first question every new visitor to the Grand Canyon state asks. But it does have the best answer. On 3rd November 2020, voters in Arizona approved Proposition 207, legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. So, yes, weed is legal in Arizona. At least, it will be very soon!
Legal medical marijuana has a long history in Arizona. Way back in 1996, the state’s voters passed a drug reform measure, Proposition 200, which included provisions for doctor prescribed medical marijuana. Now, after years of setbacks and leaps forward, Arizona cannabis reform has reached a peak—adult recreational use is legal throughout the state.
What You Need to Know About Cannabis Legalization in Arizona
First of all, weed in Arizona won’t be legal for consumption or possession until the election results are certified on November 30, 2020. Once recreational marijuana in Arizona is certified, every marijuana user in Arizona will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower or up to five grams of concentrated cannabis.
The new Arizona marijuana legalization initiative also allows adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home legally. In a house where two or more adults reside, the limit of marijuana plants per household is 12.
These legal protections apply only to consumers 21 years old and older.
Driving while dosing remains illegal under the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative. Prop. 207 specifies that “driving, flying or boating while impaired to the slightest degree by marijuana remains illegal.”
Smoking marijuana in public places also remains banned by the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative. Put simply, Prop. 207 says, yes recreational weed is legal in Arizona, and it is enjoyed best in the comfort of your own home.
Where Can You Buy Legal Recreational Marijuana in Arizona?
Legal recreational pot in Arizona will be available for purchase from a marijuana dispensary starting at the earliest March 2021. Arizona’s licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be the first retail outlets licensed to sell adult recreational cannabis.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services (DHS) is allotted 60 days from the time of election certification to issue recreational licenses to approved medical marijuana dispensaries. If the DHS drags its feet in issuing recreational marijuana licenses, Proposition 207 stipulates that Arizona’s medical marijuana dispensaries are entitled to begin selling recreational cannabis on April 5, 2021.
Legal recreational weed sales are on track to be up and running by April 20, 2021, just in time for America’s annual 4/20 national marijuana holiday.
The state anticipates upward of 160 recreational marijuana dispensaries will be operating when the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative is up to full speed.
By comparison, 120 medical marijuana dispensaries were in business during the 2020 vote passing Prop. 207.
How Will Prop. 207 and Recreational Cannabis Legalization Affect Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Patients?
Medical marijuana patients in Arizona have nothing to fear from the 2020 voter approval of Prop. 207.
Arizona’s existing qualified medical marijuana dispensaries are all eligible to become “dual licensees.” This means that existing qualified medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to retain their designation as medical marijuana providers while simultaneously operating as recreational marijuana dispensaries.
Existing qualified medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to shoulder the initial burden of servicing Arizona’s legal recreational marijuana consumers. This ensures Arizona’s qualified medical marijuana dispensaries will remain in business and continue to service Arizona’s medical marijuana cardholders.
Under the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative, medical marijuana cardholders will retain advantages not available to recreational marijuana consumers. At point of sale, recreational marijuana purchases will be subject to a 16% excise tax on top of regular sales tax. Medical marijuana purchases will be exempt from recreational marijuana’s 16% excise tax.
Arizona’s Prop 207 dictates that recreational edibles, so as not to be confused with kids’ candy, cannot be shaped like any form of “human, animal, insect, fruit, toy or cartoon” and cannot be marketed under fanciful names that would appeal to children.
Medical marijuana patients may not care that their cannabis-infused gummy won’t look like a Teletubby. Of more concern is that under the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative guidelines, marijuana edibles sold to recreational marijuana consumers may not exceed 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per treat and 100 mg per package.
Arizona’s medical marijuana patients will retain the option to purchase edibles of a THC dose far higher than the 10 mg limit for recreational marijuana consumers.
Medical marijuana cardholders have an advantage over legal recreational marijuana users in the Arizona workplace as well.
Under Prop. 207, the rights of employers are upheld to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workforce. That means employers can continue to test and deny jobs to potential hires for marijuana use. A dirty marijuana test can even be presented among grounds for dismissal.
However, so long as they are not impaired on the job, medical marijuana cardholders are exempt from being fired for a positive marijuana test.
Arizona Prop. 207: Cannabis Reform Provides for Reparations and Amnesty
The Arizona recreational marijuana legalization initiative is a feel-good measure beyond the effects of the marijuana high.
Prop. 207 provides routes to expunging past marijuana convictions and routes to dispensary ownership among communities that have been persecuted by historical prohibition of marijuana use and possession.
Upon voter approval of Prop. 207, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office and the Yavapai County Attorney’s office both announced that pending charges of possession of marijuana and charges for other conduct legalized by Proposition 207 will be dismissed. Maricopa County is Arizona’s most populous county.
The process for erasing existing marijuana convictions under Prop. 207 bylaws will require more effort than the dismissal of pending charges. The Arizona marijuana legalization initiative states that starting July 12, 2021, anyone who has been convicted under Arizona jurisdiction of cannabis possession or cultivation legalized by Prop. 27 can petition to have the record expunged.
Unless the agency that initially prosecuted the conviction puts in the time and effort to present “clear and convincing evidence” that the conviction does not qualify to be expunged, the court is obligated to rule in favor of the petitioner. Tens of thousands of convictions for marijuana possession in Arizona may be eligible to be erased.
Of 160 recreational marijuana dispensary licenses anticipated under the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative, 26 have been set aside for “social equity licenses.”
The framers of Prop. 207 have stipulated that the 26 social equity licenses be awarded to “individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.”
The specifics of what constitutes a “disproportionately impacted community” and who from that community will qualify for “social equity licenses” are not spelled out in Prop. 207. Arizona’s Department of Health Services (DHS) is allotted six months to define those terms, set the standards for who qualifies, accept applications and issue the 26 social equity licenses.
The Arizona marijuana legalization initiative is an example of progress in process. The parts are in place, and the wheels are in motion. The only question (now that is weed legal in Arizona is answered) is how far will that progress go?
Flower and edibles and concentrates will undoubtedly be served. The hope is that the Arizona legal cannabis initiative will serve justice as well, and that serving justice will be a trend spreading to the rest of the nation.
If you’re in Arizona and you hold a medical marijuana card, we recommend you continue to renew your card to take advantage of the lower tax rates and wider range of products. If you don’t have, and cannot obtain, a medical marijuana card, you will be able to purchase recreational marijuana from April 2021.