While recreational marijuana has yet to be legalized in Arizona, the state did pass laws in 2011 that allowed the distribution and use of medical marijuana for qualified individuals. With Proposition 203, Arizona became the 14th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, followed quickly by New Jersey and Washington, DC. In 2016, recreational legalization barely failed on the ballot but was reintroduced by Smart and Safe Arizona in 2020. The initiative received enough signatures to put legalization back on the ballot, but Arizona’s 2020 legislative season ended before the initiative was officially put to a vote. Because of this, Arizona remains one of the harshest states for illegal marijuana possession. Hopefully, 2021 will be a promising year for legalization efforts.
Since recreational marijuana is still illegal, state-verified medical marijuana dispensaries are the only type available. As of January 2020, there are roughly 100 dispensaries throughout the state, with the greater Phoenix area home to the majority (Phoenix alone has over 20 different state-verified medical dispensaries).
To purchase marijuana from a state-licensed medical cannabis dispensary in Arizona, you must be registered with the state as a medical marijuana patient. Additionally, you must be an adult over 18 years old to qualify and purchase on your own accord. When buying marijuana from a dispensary, you must provide government-issued identification and proof of your digital medical marijuana card (via bar code on a smartphone or a printed copy). Individuals without proof of their status as a medical marijuana patient will not be allowed to purchase from any dispensary within the state.
Arizona allows dispensaries to deliver to qualifying patients; however, there are quite a few guidelines they must follow to legally do so. Because of this, there are very few dispensaries that actually provide in-house delivery services. Fortunately, a local cannabis delivery service, Supurb, has legally made its way into the state’s medical marijuana infrastructure and is available for almost every dispensary. It works similarly to Uber Eats or Postmates and has been incredibly successful, especially during Covid-19 and the 2020 lockdowns.
Per medical cannabis guidelines, deliveries can be made for up to 2.5 ounces at a time. However, this is also the maximum amount of cannabis a patient can buy every two weeks. Therefore, only 2.5 ounces can be delivered if this does not cause the patient to go over their bi-weekly limit.
Currently, Arizona allows medical dispensaries to operate between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. However, store hours vary widely depending on the dispensary (especially during Covid-19 and lockdown efforts). Individual cities also retain the right to dictate store hours, but the majority of cities comply with Arizona’s overarching guidelines. Especially during Covid-19, it is best to call ahead if you plan to visit a store or order delivery.
Only individuals with medical cannabis cards are allowed to purchase marijuana. Per the medical cannabis program’s rules, up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana (flower, concentrated or infused) may be purchased every two weeks. Up to 2.5 ounces can be bought, transported, and kept within a qualified individual’s possession at any given time, so long as it doesn’t cause the patient to go over the bi-weekly limit.
There are currently no popular products labeled as illegal in the state of Arizona, so long as they are bought and used for medicinal purposes. In 2019, the Arizona supreme court ruled that concentrates and infusion were okay for patients to use – that was the last hurdle in product legality for medical dispensaries. Because of this, most dispensaries within Arizona offer a wide range of products, including a variety of CBD & THC dominant flower, vapes, concentrates, edibles, topicals, and even pre-rolls. Accessories can also frequently found at dispensaries.
Because of marijuana’s current illegal status in Arizona for recreational use, there are no taxes associated with its purchase. We will continue to update this section (and the rest of the page) as Arizona progresses toward more weed-friendly laws.
Medical marijuana in Arizona is subject to a state sales tax of 5.6%, along with city and county taxes that range anywhere from 0.25% to 4%. There have been several initiatives to increase the sales tax related to marijuana, but nothing has yet been passed.
Anyone without proper medical cannabis identification is at risk of facing serious penalties if caught in possession of marijuana. Below are the current consequences for possession in Arizona:
The same fine of up to $150,000 is applied to the sale, manufacturing, cultivation, and trafficking of illegal marijuana; however, the potential incarceration rates range from 1 year up to 12.5 years. Because Arizona has yet to decriminalize marijuana possession, the fines and incarceration rates are incredibly steep for even the smallest offenses. Even possession of drug paraphernalia can land you with a felony, up to 2 years in prison, and a max fine of $150,000.
Because recreational use of marijuana is still illegal (and highly punishable) in Arizona, there is nowhere to legally use it throughout the state unless you have a medical cannabis card and are a registered patient of the program. However, even if you have a medical cannabis card, that doesn’t mean you’re legally able to smoke anywhere you want. There are plenty of areas (especially public places) where the use of marijuana is strictly prohibited. Below is a list of places where you can and cannot legally use medical marijuana:
Areas in Arizona that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
Areas in Arizona that DO allow the use of marijuana:
As noted above, edibles are allowed in public places (except for school grounds and correctional facilities). Smoking, on the other hand, is not allowed anywhere in public. If you are caught smoking or using medical cannabis in prohibited areas, you are subject to face criminal prosecution, regardless of your medical patient status.
Even in states where weed is completely legalized, it is illegal to use any form of marijuana on federal lands, which primarily includes parks and forests. Because marijuana is federally illegal in all forms, if you’re a patient of medical marijuana in Arizona, it is still illegal to use any of your legally purchased cannabis anywhere that is designated federal land. Arizona has dozens of federal parks and forests, including Coconino National Forest, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Tonto National Forest, Petrified Forest National Park, Salt River Canyon Wilderness Area, and the Grand Canyon. If you’re caught using or possessing marijuana in these places, you will be subject to federal law and prosecution.
With the 2011 Proposition 203, Arizona became the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. So long as an Arizona citizen is afflicted by a qualifying medical condition, they (along with their caregivers) are allowed to apply for a registry identification card through the Department of Health Services. The current list of qualifying conditions is as follows: cancer, hepatitis C, glaucoma, MS, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and ALS. Additionally, individuals suffering from a medical condition that causes wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, seizures, nausea, and/or muscle spasms are also allowed into the program.
As of late 2019, Arizona has transitioned into a fully digital medical marijuana card system. In order to obtain one of these and legally buy marijuana from a state-verified dispensary, you must first apply and be accepted into the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program. All applications can be submitted online through the Arizona Department of Health Services website (we highly recommend downloading their official checklist before submitting your final application). Below is a list of what you’ll need to successfully apply to the program:
Arizona allows for individuals to cross into the state with marijuana, so long as they are registered with their own state’s medical cannabis program. Once within Arizona, anyone carrying marijuana on them must be able to show proof of their patient status or they will be subject to prosecution. While out of state medical cardholders can use marijuana within Arizona, they are not able to use their cards to purchase more cannabis within the state.
If you do not have a medical marijuana card, it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana or transport it in any capacity. If you are a patient of the medical cannabis program, you are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time and can transport this in your vehicle (so long as you are not actively using it). Arizona has open container laws in place that make it illegal to keep marijuana in your passenger seat if it is not completely sealed. For your safety and security, we suggest keeping your medical marijuana tightly sealed in the trunk of your car or the glove compartment.
If you are pulled over and test positive for marijuana metabolites via drug test, then you will be charged with a DUI. Because marijuana can remain in the system for up to a month, it is possible to be charged with a DUI weeks after you’ve ingested THC. However, a patient of medical cannabis will not be subject to this charge. Additionally, you can refuse to take a drug test, but this may result in license suspension for up to a year.
As a registered medical cannabis patient, it is still your responsibility to not drive intoxicated. If you are pulled over and show signs of impairment, you may still be asked to take a drug test and will have to defend your intoxication levels if the tests show positive. Just because you have a medical cannabis card does not mean you can drive while under the influence or are free from any DUI charges.
This is tricky - under federal law, you are not able to drive across state lines with marijuana. However, you are legally able to drive from another state into Arizona with marijuana, so long as you have a medical cannabis card and possess less than 2.5 ounces. If you are driving out of Arizona into the surrounding states, it depends entirely on the other state’s laws. New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and California all allow you to cross their borders with marijuana. Utah, on the other hand, just began their medical cannabis program in 2020 and currently does not allow reciprocity (you can’t use your out of state medical card in Utah).
Patients of the Arizona medical cannabis program can choose to apply for authorization to cultivate their own marijuana plants upon initially applying for their patient status and medical cannabis card. Home cultivation is only allowed if an operating dispensary is not available within 25 miles of a patient’s home. Because of how many dispensaries are in Arizona, this means that most people do not qualify. If you do qualify, however, you are able to grow up to 12 plants within an enclosed, locked facility. Rooms that count as an acceptable growing place include closets, locked bedrooms, and greenhouses.
There have been recent attempts to legalize possession and home cultivation for all adult Arizona citizens, but they have either narrowly failed or are currently held up in legal systems. We will continue to update this page as changes to legalization and access occur.