With the legalization of marijuana for medical use in a number of states and even recreational use recently in our neighboring states of California and Colorado, use and possession of marijuana has seemingly become much more acceptable. Unfortunately, although society’s general attitudes toward marijuana may be changing, the law in Arizona has not. Possession or use of marijuana and/or drug paraphernalia, even in minor amounts, is still considered a felony criminal offense in the State of Arizona and law enforcement will and does arrest offenders.
Medical marijuana programs are legal in both Arizona and other states; however, they still operate in a “grey area” as federal law still prohibits the use of the drug in any way. With a new administration now in the White House, the federal prohibition against any use poses a threat even to those people who are allowed to use marijuana legally pursuant to their own state and local laws. Furthermore, even if you have a valid authorization or prescription to use marijuana, those same authorizations or prescriptions may not be valid outside of your particular state and are not recognized under federal law. Additionally, based on current interpretations of the law by Arizona law enforcement including our current Maricopa County Attorney, obtaining or distributing marijuana even as a medical caregiver may not make you exempt from criminal prosecution and you could still face criminal felony charges for possession, transportation, or sale of an illegal drug.
In Arizona, possession of marijuana, in any amount, is a felony punishable by a sentence of up anywhere between 1 to 5 years a state penitentiary and up to $150,000 in fines depending on the amount and circumstances involved. Moreover, conviction of a felony can result in the loss of your civil rights such as the right to vote and bear arms and can hinder your ability to obtain future employment.
If you charged in Arizona with an offense involving marijuana, you should seek legal counsel immediately as alternative or diversion programs may be available to you depending on the facts and circumstances involved.
If you would like to work with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 630-2464 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.