What is Prop 207 in Arizona?
Arizona voters passed Proposition 207 in November’s 2020 general election, legalizing the possession of marijuana in the state. Specifically, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (another name for Prop 207) legalizes the adult recreational use of marijuana by allowing adults who are 21 and older in Arizona to possess up to one ounce of marijuana (with no more than five grams being marijuana concentrate), and to have up to six marijuana plants in their home (12 in households with two or more adults over age 21).
Although medical marijuana has been legalized since 2010 under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), Prop 207 is a game-changer for the state, as selling recreational cannabis is now legal. Sales of recreational marijuana in Arizona started on January 22, 2021, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize its recreational use. During the first ten days, sales of recreational cannabis were $2.9 million statewide.
What Kinds of Marijuana Use or Possession are Still Prohibited in Arizona?
There are still certain actions that would violate Prop 207. They include:
- Possession of over 1 oz or marijuana but less than 2.5 oz. is considered a petty offense
- Possession of more than 5 grams (but less than 12.5 grams) of marijuana concentrate is considered a petty offense
- Using marijuana in a public place or open space is a petty offense
- Growing marijuana in an unenclosed space in public view is a petty offense (first violation) and a Class 3 misdemeanor for subsequent violations
- If you are under age 21 and use, possess or share marijuana, it is a civil penalty for the first offense. You may be required to undergo 4 hours of drug education or counseling. On a second offense, this is a petty offense and you can be subjected to 8 hours of drug education or counseling. A third violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Lying about your age to obtain recreational marijuana is a petty offense (first violation). Subsequent offenses are Class 1 misdemeanors.
- If you are under 21 and solicit someone else to buy marijuana for you, this is a petty offense (first violation) and Class 3 misdemeanor (second violation)
- Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana is still illegal. You may not drive while impaired to the slightest degree by marijuana, under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381.
Does Prop 207 Affect Current Marijuana Cases or Past Convictions in Arizona?
Another important aspect of Prop 207 is that it allows for people to apply for expungement if they were convicted of marijuana-related charges that fall under the new laws. Previously, Arizona did not allow expungement of one’s criminal record. Under the new law, however, if you have been convicted of certain crimes related to possession, consumption, cultivation, and transportation of marijuana, you may petition the court to expunge your criminal record. This provision of the law will be effective starting July 12, 2021. Contact our law firm for more information or assistance if you would like to apply for expungement of previous marijuana-related convictions.
How Will Prop 207 Affect Future Marijuana Convictions in Arizona?
Possible penalties for criminal offenses in Arizona are enhanced based on a person’s past criminal convictions. This means that defendants may face facing significant criminal penalties for new charges just due to the fact that they have past marijuana possession charges. Under the new provisions of Prop 207, however, defendants are allowed to expunge their records related to drug offenses, which potentially would significantly lower exposure on any new cases. Future marijuana convictions will be handled differently in Arizona’s criminal justice system. This will also change the possible penalties one will face for future marijuana offenses.
If you or someone whom you know requires assistance in expunging their record or has any inquiries about how this new law will affect them, please contact our law office. We are ready and willing to help clients clear past convictions and protect their rights.