Smart and Safe Marijuana Act in Arizona

In November 2020, Arizona became the 15th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The law – officially named Proposition 207 and nicknamed the Smart and Safe Marijuana Act – will fully take effect in 2021. It allows law-abiding adults to possess, use and grow marijuana, within specific guidelines. It also decriminalizes the possession of marijuana, in many cases.

Main Points of Proposition 207

Proposition 207 amended Arizona’s existing marijuana law by adding section 43-108. This section officially legalizes the responsible adult use and regulation of marijuana for recreational (not only medicinal) purposes. The law has several key points citizens must obey for the lawful use of cannabis in Arizona.

  • The law legalizes marijuana possession and use for adults 21 and older.
  • Adults may only use, possess or transfer up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of concentrate. Patients with medical marijuana cards may possess up to 2.5 ounces.
  • Adults may grow no more than 6 marijuana plants per household (or 12 with two or more adult residents) at a primary residence.
  • It remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public places and open spaces, with exceptions for medical marijuana.
  • The retail sale of marijuana will be lawful at licensed establishments, with a 16% tax. The revenue acquired from taxing the sale of recreational marijuana will help fund colleges, community programs, public safety and various state agencies.
  • The law amends criminal classifications and penalties for the possession and use of marijuana. Possession of less than two pounds of marijuana will no longer be a class 6 felony crime.
  • Those convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes will be eligible for record expungement beginning July 12, 2021.

With the passing of Prop 207, Arizona has officially legalized the use and possession of marijuana for nonmedicinal purposes. The provisions legalizing the possession of marijuana and plant cultivation will take effect when the governor passes a proclamation. Provisions regarding licensing dispensaries and changing criminal penalties go into effect in 2021.

When Will Sales for Recreational Marijuana Begin?

Although the language of the law legalized possession and use of recreational marijuana within one ounce immediately, authorities in Arizona are warning citizens that legalization is not yet official. The governor has not yet issued a formal proclamation enforcing the bill.

State agencies are currently reviewing the language of the law and training officers on how to enforce the new rules. Only once the proclamation comes down from the governor may citizens in Arizona possess, grow and use recreational marijuana.

It is important to note that retail sales for recreational marijuana will not begin until 2021, even after the governor releases a proclamation. Prop 207 did not legalize the recreational sale of marijuana until about March 2021. Individuals are also not allowed to sell it to one another. Therefore, the only legal way to acquire marijuana for recreational use in Arizona currently is to grow your own plant or have someone donate it to you.

Who Will Be Able to Legally Buy and Use Marijuana?

Before the passing of Prop 207, the only people who could legally purchase and use marijuana were qualifying patients with valid medical marijuana identification cards. Under the Smart and Safe Marijuana Act, however, any law-abiding adult who is 21 years old or older will legally be able to buy, possess, grow and use marijuana for medical or nonmedical purposes.

Is Driving Under the Influence Still Illegal?

Yes, driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana is still illegal in Arizona after the passing of Proposition 207. Lawmakers have made it clear that operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating amount of marijuana is still a DUI crime, punishable by fines, potential jail time, driver’s license suspension and/or probation. While you may be able to buy and use recreational marijuana in Arizona in 2021, you cannot drive under its influence.