Driving with Marijuana Out of Arizona

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since it was approved by voters in 2010, and voters in the 2020 election also passed Proposition 207 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana among adults in the state in Nov. 2020.

| Arizona is now one of 17 states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

While Arizona borders several states that have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, including California, Colorado, and Nevada, it does not mean that you can get on the road to travel out of state with marijuana purchased within Arizona.

More than 203,000 Arizonans are also registered medical cannabis users, comprising a little more than 3% of the state’s population. Even if you have a valid medical marijuana card in Arizona, that does not mean that you will be legally allowed to bring your medicine with you to another state.

Here is some information about the Arizona marijuana laws and traveling with marijuana within the state or out of state from a marijuana DUI lawyer at the Shah Law Firm.

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The Effect of Proposition 207 and the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act

Proposition 207 was passed by voters as a ballot initiative during the 2020 election. This law added Chapter 28.2 to Title 36 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and made multiple changes.

The newly introduced law finally legalized the recreational use, possession, transportation, and cultivation of marijuana by adults ages 21 and older within Arizona of up to one (1) ounce of useable marijuana, five (5) grams of marijuana concentrate, or up to six (6) plants per adult.

Possession from one (1) to 2.5 ounces was decriminalized and made a petty offense instead of a felony. 

Combined with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the passage of the recreational marijuana law now means that many people may now legally possess and use marijuana within Arizona.

Below is a brief look at different aspects of these two laws.

Possession of Marijuana in Arizona

Under ARS 36-2852, adults in Arizona who are at least 18 are now allowed to possess, use, transport, or purchase one ounce of marijuana or five grams of marijuana concentrate. Residents may also cultivate up to six plants. If two or more adults live in the same home, the maximum allowed number of plants is 12.

People who have medical marijuana cards can possess, use, purchase, or transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana under ARS 36-2801.

They can also cultivate up to 12 plants as long as they are also certified cultivators.

Buying Marijuana

People who buy marijuana for recreational purchases from licensed dispensaries may purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of marijuana concentrate.

People who have medical marijuana registration cards can buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

Consuming Marijuana

While it is legal for people of legal age to buy and consume marijuana, you cannot use it in public. This is true for both recreational and medicinal users. Smoking marijuana is not allowed in public, and private employers are allowed to prohibit its use on their premises.

Dispensaries cannot allow customers or patients to use marijuana on site, or else they risk losing their licenses. Medical marijuana users are allowed to consume edible forms of medical marijuana in public.

However, they cannot do so while operating motor vehicles. Doing so can result in a marijuana DUI charge if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.

Arizona Marijuana DUI Laws

Neither the AMMA nor the recreational marijuana law makes it okay to drive or operate a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while you are under the influence and impaired to the slightest degree. Under ARS 28-1381, you can be charged with a DUI if you drive, operate, or are in actual control of a motor vehicle and are impaired to the slightest degree by marijuana.

While there is no per se limit for marijuana in Arizona like there is for alcohol, you can still face charges if you have active THC in your blood and an officer believes that your driving is even slightly impaired.

It is not a defense to a marijuana DUI charge in Arizona that you have a valid medical marijuana card when you are slightly impaired.

If you are visiting Arizona, use marijuana, and drive, you can face a misdemeanor for a first offense carrying from 10 days up to six months in jail, fines of up to $2,500, a suspension of your driving privileges, probation, and a substance abuse assessment and classes if ordered.

The court can suspend all but one day of jail if you complete the substance abuse assessment and follow any treatment recommendations.

Qualifying Patients Under the AMMA

Proposition 203 was passed in 2010. This law legalized the medical use of marijuana for registered patients with certain qualifying conditions. People can qualify for medical marijuana cards as long as they are 18 or older, have a valid government ID, live in Arizona, provide medical records to support the claimed medical conditions to present to the doctor, and have a debilitating medical condition.

Some of the qualifying medical conditions include the following:

Chronic, severe pain
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Severe, chronic nausea

You are not considered to be a qualified patient without going through the process to get a medical marijuana card. To do so, you will have to be examined by a doctor and obtain a physician certification form to certify that your condition qualifies for a medical marijuana card.

You will also have to pay to see the doctor and pay an application fee of $150 to get your card. After your application is submitted, the Arizona Department of Human Services will mail your registration card to your address within five business days. This card must be renewed annually.

Can You Legally Purchase and Use Marijuana in the Other States?

A large number of states have legalized medical marijuana, and 17 have also legalized recreational marijuana. However, many states that have legalized medical marijuana will not allow you to purchase medical marijuana from their dispensaries with an out-of-state medical marijuana card. There are a few exceptions, however.

Some states allow people who are registered medical marijuana users from other states to apply for temporary medical marijuana registration cards to purchase medical marijuana during their stays.

These states include the following:

Michigan at the discretion of the dispensary
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island

Other states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes may not recognize your out-of-state Arizona medical marijuana registry card.

However, if you are traveling to a state that has legalized recreational marijuana, you should be able to legally purchase marijuana there at a recreational dispensary. The allowed amounts may be lower, and you will want to check with the laws in your destination state before traveling.

If you are planning to travel to Arizona with a valid medical marijuana registration card from a different state, you will not be allowed to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary in the state. However, you can legally purchase, use, possess, and transport up to one ounce of recreational marijuana during your visit as long as you are 21 or older.

Traveling with Marijuana Within Arizona

Arizona residents have many opportunities to travel within the state. There are great opportunities for recreation year-round, terrific cities, and different ecosystems to explore.

If you are an Arizona Medical Marijuana Patient with a valid card, you can transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana with you on your journeys within Arizona.

However, you should keep your marijuana out of the passenger compartment if its container is unsealed. If you need more medical marijuana, you can use your registration card to purchase medical marijuana at any medical cannabis dispensary in the state.

If you are an adult at least 21 or older, you can legally transport up to one ounce of marijuana within Arizona. You should not keep your marijuana in your passenger compartment to avoid the suspicion that you might be driving under the influence. Keep it secured in your trunk.

You should also keep any paraphernalia you use to consume marijuana locked in your trunk. It is important to note that you cannot smoke marijuana in public places while traveling, and you also cannot smoke it in hotel rooms.

Since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, you will not be allowed to bring it with you on your visit to a national forest, national park, or any other federally-owned property.

Flying With Cannabis

You cannot fly with marijuana in your possession. If you go to the airport with marijuana you legally purchased in Arizona to fly to a destination within the state or outside of it, the Department of Homeland Security officials will seize it and turn it over to local law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution. Never try to fly with marijuana.

If you are traveling to a state where it is legal, you can always purchase more when you arrive at your destination.

Traveling with Marijuana Across Arizona State Lines

While a few states allow you to bring marijuana with you into their states, you should never try to cross state lines while transporting marijuana.

When you transport any part of a marijuana plant across state lines, you could have your marijuana seized and face potential federal prosecution.

This means that you should not take a trip to Colorado, California, or Nevada with marijuana in your car even though you legally purchased it and marijuana is legal in those states. There are many recreational shops that sell marijuana products, and you can simply wait until you arrive to purchase marijuana without violating the law.

Finding Lodging

In almost every circumstance, you cannot smoke marijuana in a hotel room, and it is generally illegal in most states to consume it publicly.

A solution to the above could be to find lodging on sites like VRBO and Airbnb to find private homes to rent that will allow you to legally use marijuana during your stay. Make sure to read the rules so that you do not violate the contract.

Importation of Marijuana into Arizona

Proposition 207 and the AMMA do not allow the importation of marijuana into the state. Even though recreational marijuana is now legal, you can still face serious felony drug charges if you import marijuana into the state from elsewhere.

Under ARS 13-3405(A)(4), importing marijuana into Arizona from out of state is still illegal. If convicted, it is a class 2 felony carrying serious consequences. This means if you take a trip to California, Nevada, Colorado, or another state, dispose of any unused marijuana there before you return to Arizona.

Talk to an Experienced Marijuana Attorney at the Shah Law Firm

If you are preparing to travel within the state or outside of it, you should take steps to avoid being charged with a marijuana-related crime.

If you are facing criminal charges related to marijuana in Arizona, contact marijuana attorney Arja Shah at the Shah Law Firm today by calling us at (602) 560-7408.

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Attorney Arja Shah’s law career focuses of defending people accused of serious criminal offenses in Phoenix and surrounding cities in Maricopa County. Arja works solely as a criminal defense attorney and has over a decade of experience in criminal law. After working for one of the largest law firms in Phoenix, Arja started Shah Law PLLC. Over the years, she has successfully defended hundreds of individuals facing serious criminal charges. If you need experienced representation to defend against criminal charges, contact Shah Law PLLC today.

Many criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix will say that they can help you and will “aggressively fight” for your rights. In reality, they are often ill prepared for criminal defense litigation. Arja is not one of these attorneys. She is experienced in the courtroom and has a h4 command of the law. In fact, a significant portion of Shah Law’s cases come from frustrated clients of other criminal defense attorneys. Typically, these clients have paid thousands of dollars for little or even no real representation. If you are unhappy with your current attorney, contact Shah Law PLLC.

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