Understanding Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws: How to Stay Within the Boundaries of the Law

In 2010, Arizonans voter in favor of Proposition 203, a ballot measure which made it legal for Arizonans to possess and use marijuana to treat certain chronic, severe, or painful medical conditions like cancer, HIV, and seizures. However, simply having a medical marijuana card or caring for someone who uses it does not mean that you can ignore Arizona’s laws and regulations governing the use and possession of marijuana. To avoid unnecessary legal problems, it is important to understand the specific rules as well as penalties for breaking those rules.

First, while legal for medicinal purposes, marijuana is still illegal when it comes to recreational use. Further, if questioned by law enforcement, you cannot simply claim to have any medical illness you think qualifies you to possess medical marijuana. In order to legally possess and use it, you must be given a medical marijuana card, which confirms that you have a valid medical condition. The kinds of medical conditions which qualify patients for medical marijuana usage in Arizona include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • 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

If you possess or use marijuana in Arizona without a medical marijuana prescription, you may be facing steep penalties. Under current Arizona law, any amount of possession is a Class 2 felony or higher. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have experience in reducing these charges to a class one misdemeanor, however, and in helping clients avoid jail time or significant fines by negotiating with prosecutors and the court to allow clients to avoid charges and instead attend a diversion or education program.

We also have experience in protecting the rights of those pulled over on suspicion of marijuana possession. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that police can use the odor of marijuana as probable cause to search a car or premises, and that this is applicable regardless of the state’s medical marijuana legalization. However, our skilled defense attorneys can help determine whether law enforcement had indications that the suspected marijuana use or possession was legal under the medical marijuana law. If they did, the Arizona Supreme Court has said that there are not sufficient legal foundations for a police search, meaning any evidence police collected as a result of the search cannot be admitted.

At Arizona Lawyers, we know medical marijuana can be a blessing to those suffering from chronic, severe illness or pain. We also know individuals use marijuana for recreational rather than medical purposes. No matter why you used marijuana, if you are facing charges or a police investigation related to your use of marijuana, the best decision you can make for your future and your rights is to give the experienced drug defense attorneys at Arizona Lawyers a call. We serve clients in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Yuma, Flagstaff, and Glendale areas, and are ready to help you. Contact us today.