Does Arizona Proposition 207 Make it Legal to Smoke Marijuana?

This past November, 4 states decided to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Arizona was one of these states. The legislation legalizing marijuana is called Proposition 207 and is officially known as the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act.” It was formally passed by a 60-40 vote in early November of 2020. Unfortunately, the new laws have left a lot of people confused, even some criminal defense attorneys in Arizona.

The fact that the state has legalized the recreational use of the drug does not mean marijuana users are out of the woods. Right now, there is no way to get your hands on legal cannabis products in Arizona. The state won’t even be accepting applications for new dispensaries until mid-January. They expect it to take up to sixty (60) days to approve these applications. For now, the expectation is that existing medical marijuana dispensaries will lead the way for sales of recreational marijuana.

The problem is that a lot of people don’t understand the new laws. It is still going to be illegal to carry more than 1 ounce of the drug. It’s also illegal to smoke it in public or drive while under the influence of marijuana. Police are being trained right now on how to handle drivers and pedestrians who walk the line between legal and illegal use of the popular drug.

When Did the Arizona Legislature Legalize Cannabis?

Arizona legalized the medicinal use of marijuana over ten (10) years ago. However, this past November they became the 13th state to finally legalize the recreational use of the drug. Under the new legislation, people over the age of 21 will be able to carry up to one (1) ounce of the drug. They’re also allowed to grow as many as 6 marijuana plants on private property.

What many don’t understand is that, even with the passage of Prop 207, people can still be prosecuted for marijuana possession. Criminal defense attorneys in Arizona have theri hands full helping people who have been charged with marihuana related crimes over the last several months.

It is Still a Federal Crime to Possess, Use or Distribute Marijuana

One of the reasons the new laws are so confusing is that it is still a federal crime to possess, use or distribute marijuana. Just because Arizona and 4 other states decided to legalize the drug this past fall, that doesn’t mean the federal government has legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
If somebody is caught with more than an ounce of the drug on their person, they can still be charged and arrested for possession. For drivers, the law has not changed. It’s still illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug, including marijuana. Police in Arizona are going through extensive training on how to detect when a driver is high to the point where they are unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Can Your Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona Help with an Expungement?

Another interesting aspect of this new legislation has to do with expungements. Now that it will be legal to use marijuana recreationally, the State has had to decide what will happen with prior or current convictions. As of now, defendant who have been convicted of possession of marijuana are allowed to petition the state for an expungement. In fact, the Maricopa County courts have decided to throw out all pending cases along with any cases that have unfiled charges. Since it is no longer illegal to use or carry small amounts of the drug, the courts need to take a set of fresh eyes and review old convictions.

Is There an Age Limit When It Comes to Recreational Marijuana in Arizona?

For people under 21, this new law doesn’t change anything. The legislation legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana only applies to people 21 and over. If somebody under the age of 21 is caught with marijuana on them, they’ll still be arrested and charged with possession. If the police feel that a young person may be under the influence of the drug, they can ask them to perform a field sobriety test on the spot. If they don’t pass, they will be arrested and charged with possession or another related offense.

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona if You’re Charged with Any Drug Crime

If you’ve been arrested and charged with possession or distribution of marijuana, make sure to call a skilled criminal defense attorney in Arizona right away.