Arizona is one of the states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana, but it took a long time to get there. The legalization of medical marijuana was first proposed back in 1996 through a piece of legislation called Proposition 200. It was rejected, partly because it used language that conflicted with the federal law regarding cannabis use. The proposition used the word “prescribe” instead of “recommend,” and marijuana prescriptions are prohibited by federal law.
There have been several more attempts to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona. So, where does the Grand Canyon State stand now? Keep reading the Arizona marijuana laws and legalization article to find out.
Cannabis for Medicinal Use in Arizona
The road to medical marijuana legalization was a long one that went through many Propositions before being passed. As stated in the introduction, Proposition 200 was rejected because of language that conflicted with federal law. Proposition 300 was a revision of Proposition 200, the one that used the word recommendation instead of prescription, but it failed to pass in 1998.
In 2002, Proposition 203 was submitted as another attempt to legalize the use of medical marijuana, but it failed to pass. Proposition 203 was floated once again, seven years later, in 2010, and for Arizona, the fourth time was the charm as the initiative finally passed—but just barely. It passed with a vote of 50.1% – 49.87%, the narrowest margin possible.
Regardless of the margin, Arizonans with medical conditions can now reap the benefits of CBD without having to worry that they are violating the law.
The law has the following provisions:
- Terminally or seriously ill patients can use cannabis with their doctor’s recommendation.
- It prevents patients using medical marijuana from being prosecuted by the law.
- It permits patients or their caregivers to purchase cannabis from authorized dispensaries.
- It allows patients or their caregivers to grow their own plants if the nearest dispensary is over 25 miles away.
- The initiative allows for the creation of registry identification cards, so qualified patients will not get in trouble for possession.
- It prohibits the public consumption of weed, or operating a vehicle while under its influence.
How to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona
- The patient should be diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s Disease
- A condition that causes:
- Chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Intense muscle spasms
- The patient’s doctor should fill out and submit a Physician Certification Form to the Arizona Department of Health Services website 90 days prior to the application date.
- The patient must then visit the Medical Marijuana Online Registry to find and submit the appropriate application form. The application includes a $150 fee.
- The patient or their caregiver must also submit an attestation form promising that they will not divert their medical marijuana to anyone not allowed to use it.
- Once the submission is complete, the patient will receive their card within 10 days.
Once the patient has received their card, they can use it at any licensed dispensary. Marijuana for medical use is best when used in a vaporizer since smoking weed can cause or exacerbate health issues.
Cannabis for Recreational Use in Arizona
After the medical marijuana victory in 2010, Proposition 205 was added to the 2016 ballot to legalize recreational weed use. It failed by a narrow margin, but it has a chance of appearing on the ballot again in November 2018. The proposition would regulate the sale, distribution, and use of marijuana for use in joints, weed vaporizers, and edibles in much the same way as alcohol.
The prevailing belief is that the initiative failed because it gave priority licensing to existing marijuana businesses and left only a few licenses available to the free market. If the proposition is redrafted to better compensate for the original’s faults, then there is a good chance it has a better likelihood of passing the second time around.
Charges and Penalties
|Offense||Charge||Maximum Incarceration||Maximum Fine|
|Possession of less than two pounds||Class 6 Felony||Four months to two years||$150,000|
|Possession of 2 to less than 4 pounds||Class 5 Felony||Six months to two and a half years||$150,000|
|Possession of 4 pounds or more||Class 4 Felony||One to three and three quarter years||$150,000|
What is the Future of Marijuana in Arizona?
Arizona is a notoriously conservative state, but the fact that they legalized medical marijuana and came close to legalizing recreational marijuana shows that the Copper State could have a bright future. That future could come a lot sooner than anyone anticipated if Proposition 205 gets passed in the November 2018 election.
It would be a huge boost to greater legalization across the nation if a red state legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Even if the initiative fails to pass in the next election, the persistence of politicians in trying to pass the medical marijuana bill show that it won’t be the last time it will get brought up.