Farmer working with marijuana plants

Understanding Arizona’s New Marijuana Law

Faussette & Faussette June 2, 2021

Reversing a vote of just four years earlier, Arizonans in November 2020 overwhelmingly approved Proposition 207, making the recreational possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana in the state legal within specified limits.

Prior to Prop 207, Arizona had one of the strictest regimens in the country for punishing marijuana users. Possession of even the tiniest amount could lead to a felony charge and, if convicted, could result in the loss of voting rights and a permanent criminal record that would make public assistance almost impossible to get. Not to mention the damage it could do to one’s job prospects. The implementation of Prop 207 now allows for the expungement of those criminal records beginning July 12, 2021.

If you have a prior conviction and would like to explore getting it expunged, or would simply like clarification of your new rights under Proposition 207, contact the attorneys at Faussette & Faussette. We proudly serve clients throughout the Valley and its surrounding cities, as well as across the entire state of Arizona including Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Goodyear.

Taking a Look At Arizona’s New Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana usage has been legal in Arizona since 2010, but beginning this January with the implementation of Proposition 207 — known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act — the doors have swung wide open for recreational use.

Whereas before even the slightest hint of marijuana on your person could result in a felony charge, now it is legal for those 21 years and older to possess one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana and to cultivate six cannabis plants at home, providing they are secure and out of public view (12 plants if two adults reside there).

Marijuana Use in Public

Marijuana use is not allowed in public spaces and employers are allowed to establish drug-free workplace policies. Apartment owners can bar you from smoking in their buildings. The only place you can legally smoke is your own residence. Cars are considered public spaces, so if you light up in your vehicle, you are breaking the law and can be subject to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.

Possession of more than an ounce but less than 2.5 ounces (71 grams) is considered a petty offense. Minors caught with less than an ounce can be fined $100 and ordered into drug counseling.

Marijuana Dispensaries

The Smart and Safe Arizona Act directs the Department of Health Services to develop policies for licensing marijuana dispensaries. Currently, medical marijuana facilities are doubling down as recreational dispensaries while the licensing of new dispensaries looms in the future. The act also places a 16 percent tax on the sale of the substance, with proceeds benefiting highways, community college districts, and police and fire departments.

Marijuana Penalties Still in Place

Driving while impaired "to the slightest degree" by marijuana remains illegal as stipulated in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381. Testing for marijuana use is still a difficult legal issue, as marijuana stays in one’s system longer than alcohol. If you’re pulled over and arrested for a DUI for marijuana, contact our firm immediately.

Additionally, federal and state laws still apply when it comes to importing marijuana across state lines. Even sending or receiving cannabis seeds in the mail or by other conveyances can be a felony.

Prior Convictions And Expungements

When Proposition 207 passed, prosecutors in Arizona’s 15 counties immediately began dropping cases against those charged with marijuana possession. However, there now becomes a new challenge as the state begins to implement the measure’s provision for expungement of past convictions. Expungement means that your criminal record is completely eradicated and no one can access it. Additionally, you do not have to list any prior convictions when applying for a job or public assistance.

Proposition 207 did not specify the process for expungement, but it did allow for local prosecutors to object to any person’s petition for expungements.

The Copper Courier website surveyed each county’s public attorneys on their stance on expungement and found that none, so far, intend to object to the expungement process — though details of how petitioning will work still remain a bit cloudy. Expungement becomes law on July 12, 2021.

How Experienced Legal Counsel Can Help

Expungement looms large. Thousands of marijuana users who have been convicted of felonies in Maricopa County and throughout the state will be eager to get their records expunged. As soon as the process is unveiled, we will be happy to help you clear your record. You should not have to suffer the permanent stigma — and consequences — of something that is no longer considered a crime.

If you are under investigation or being charged with a DUI for marijuana, remember that we at Faussette & Faussette have helped countless others fight DUI charges. With marijuana impairment much harder to prove than alcohol impairment, you can challenge the charge based on a variety of technical factors and other details. Our firm can help you outline a strong legal defense and fight to protect your rights at every stage of the legal process.

Whatever your issue — expungement, DUI, or anything else dealing with marijuana — you can rely on the experienced attorneys at Faussette & Faussette. We are proud to serve clients throughout the greater Phoenix area, and the surrounding cities, as well across the entire state of Arizona — so don’t wait. Call or reach out to our firm today for help!