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Can You Smoke Marijuana in Public in Arizona?

More and more states throughout the country are changing their policies regarding marijuana. Arizona is among those states and you may be wondering if recent changes to laws have made smoking marijuana in public acceptable.


That’s a good question to ask and answering it is the focus of this article. Along with determining the legality of using marijuana in public, we’ll also touch on other relevant matters.

The laws involving marijuana usage in Arizona have changed significantly. You must stay up-to-date on them to avoid running into trouble with the law. Continue reading to see which changes have been made and how they could potentially impact you.

How Proposition 207 Affects Arizona’s Marijuana’s Laws

The big changes that have been made to Arizona’s marijuana laws come courtesy of the recently passed Proposition 207. Many The voters in the 2020 election chose “yes” on Proposition 207, which is otherwise known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

Arguably the biggest changes included in Proposition 207 were the ones related to the usage and possession of marijuana. Thanks to the new laws that have been enacted, it is now legal for adults over the age of twenty-one to use or possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

Notably, the relaxed laws mean that adults of the appropriate age no longer need a medical exception to use marijuana legally. Still, there are some restrictions in place regarding marijuana usage for adults.

Smoking Marijuana in Public

While Proposition 207 has relaxed many of the laws related to using marijuana recreationally, there are still limitations you need to know about. Among the limitations you must be familiar with are the ones that dictate where you can smoke marijuana.

Smoking marijuana in the comfort of your own home is not going to be an issue. Proposition 207 has made that act legal.

However, you cannot use marijuana if you are in public.

The laws specifically state that using marijuana in a public or open space is not allowed. It doesn’t matter if you’re of the legal age and you’re following amount restrictions, you can still be found in violation of the law by smoking marijuana where you shouldn’t.

Public Places Where Smoking Marijuana Is Not Allowed

The term “public space” is vague so let’s define it more clearly here. According to Arizona law, public space is “an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted.”

Examples of public spaces where people are not allowed to use marijuana include airports, restaurants, and shopping malls. It’s also important to note here that not all the spots in your place of residence may allow marijuana.

For instance, you may be allowed to smoke marijuana inside your apartment, but that’s probably the only place in that establishment where that activity is allowed. If you are planning to hang out in one of your apartment’s common areas, don’t bother bringing marijuana along because you’re not allowed to use it there.

Another notable wrinkle here is that your private residence can be deemed a public place as well depending on how it is being used. Homes that are being used as care facilities are considered public spaces too. Don’t smoke marijuana if your home is being used in that way unless you want to run afoul of the law.

Open Spaces Where Smoking Marijuana Is Not Allowed

Now that we’ve defined public spaces, let’s turn our attention to open spaces. The state of Arizona defines open spaces as parks, pedestrian thoroughfares, sidewalks, and walkways.

It doesn’t matter whether you isolate yourself while at the park or any other open space. Smoking marijuana there is illegal and you will be penalized if you are caught.

Speaking of penalties…

The Penalties for Getting Caught Smoking Marijuana in Public

Although using marijuana in private is now legal for adults in Arizona, that doesn’t mean that you can subject anyone to that activity. You still need to keep that action private. Failing to do so could lead to you facing some penalties.

The first time you are cited for smoking marijuana in public, you will be charged with a petty offense. The penalty for committing a petty offense is a fine. The fine for a petty offense is capped at $300.

You do not need to worry about jail time if you are caught smoking marijuana in public once.

Getting cited for using marijuana in public multiple times is a different issue. This time around, you will be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor.

Unlike petty offenses, class 3 misdemeanors carry two penalties. The first is a fine. The maximum amount you may pay after being found guilty of committing a class 3 misdemeanor is $500.

Violators may also be staring at potential jail time after they’re caught using marijuana in public more than once. The maximum jail sentence for that violation is 30 days. Partnering with an experienced attorney could help you get that sentence reduced, though.

Marijuana and the Workplace

Proposition 207 has not placed limitations on what employers can do with regards to marijuana. Employers are still allowed to set up their own rules regarding marijuana usage within the workplace.

As an employer, you can decide to prohibit the use of marijuana in the office. You can also enact certain policies that limit marijuana usage for your employees.

Upon being caught, an employee may argue that they were not smoking marijuana inside the office. They may argue that using marijuana in the parking lot or shared bathroom is not equivalent to smoking marijuana inside the workplace.

Even if they technically were not using marijuana inside the office, they may still violate certain rules. More specifically, smoking marijuana in those places constitutes using marijuana in public. You can report them to law enforcement for that violation and penalize them as you see fit for their actions.

Understandably, you may be worried that your current or former employee may attempt to sue you after you reprimanded them. Don’t be afraid because Arizona has laws in place that protect employers from being sued by former employees who were fired after doing drugs or drinking on the job.

The bottom line here for employees is that marijuana usage is best confined to the home. Bringing that habit to work without clearing it with your employer first can lead to some serious trouble. You can steer clear of that potential headache by only using marijuana in your place of residence.

Disqualifying Applicants for Marijuana Usage

Business owners are not required to allow or even accommodate their employees who use, possess, or display marijuana. If you’ve already established guidelines indicating that marijuana is not allowed in your place of business, you can reprimand your employees for violating them.

Some employers want to maintain drug-free work settings, which is why they are careful about who they hire. In pursuit of maintaining a drug-free workspace, you can ask applicants to participate in a drug test. If an applicant tests positive for marijuana, you are well within your rights as an employer to decline offering the job.

There is an exception for those who have been cleared for medical marijuana usage. Employers cannot cite a positive marijuana test as the reason why they denied an applicant if that person in question has medical marijuana exception.

Still, even those with a medical marijuana exception can only use the substance at home. If you found them smoking at work, you can penalize them.

One more thing to point out here is that marijuana users may be disqualified from certain jobs even if they have a medical exception. Using marijuana while performing certain tasks may bring up safety concerns. The safety of people on the job site takes precedence in that scenario.

smoking marijuana in a car

How Smoking Marijuana Affects Your Driving Privileges

Many of us often associate driving under the influence or DUI violations with drunk driving. It’s easy to understand why that happens because many DUI violations do indeed involve individuals who have consumed way too much alcohol still trying to operate their vehicles.

You should know that you can still be cited for a DUI violation even if you only used marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana was illegal prior to the enactment of Proposition 207 and that remains the case today.

Why Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Is Illegal

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are well known but don’t discount how much marijuana usage can impair you as well. The CDC has highlighted the different ways in which marijuana usage can affect your driving skills.

Per this fact sheet from the CDC, using marijuana can slow down your reaction while also adversely affecting your ability to make decisions. Even your coordination and perception can be adversely affected by marijuana usage. You can easily imagine how negative effects such as those can prove deadly when you’re behind the wheel of your car.

At this point, there is no roadside test that can accurately tell if you recently used marijuana. Don’t assume that the lack of an accurate test means you can get away with driving under the influence of marijuana, though. You may still be tested for marijuana after a potential incident.

The tricky thing about marijuana too is that it tends to hang around in the human body. Studies have found that marijuana can still be detected in a person’s body even though the last time they smoked was days or even weeks before. Remember too that you can be cited for a DUI violation if a drug metabolite is found in your system.

Err on the side of caution and avoid driving if you know that your head is not clear after using marijuana. Disregarding your current condition can land you in big trouble.

The Penalties for Getting Caught Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

The penalties for getting caught driving while under the influence of marijuana are harsher than the ones levied for smoking the substance in public. That holds true even for first-time offenders.

The first time you’re caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be sentenced to spend at least ten consecutive days in jail. You will also be fined not less than $1250 for your negligent actions. Offenders also render community service.

Individuals found guilty of driving under the influence also need to take part in education, screening, and treatment programs. Participating in one of those programs should teach you how dangerous impaired driving can truly be.

Penalties become more severe for repeat offenses.

The fine is now a minimum of $3000 while your jail sentence will be no shorter than 90 days. Rendering community service and participating in education, screening, and treatment programs also remain as requirements. They may revoke your driver’s license for twelve months if you are guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana more than once.

Can You Smoke Marijuana in Your Vehicle if You Are Not Driving?

Driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited in the state of Arizona, but what about smoking marijuana in your car? Is that illegal even if you do not intend to drive?

Even with no intention to drive, smoking marijuana inside your vehicle is still prohibited. That makes sense considering how marijuana can affect you physically and mentally. You may not be planning to use the vehicle, but you may still move it accidentally in your impaired state.

One wrong move can lead to an accident, so it’s best to avoid being anywhere near your vehicle if you’re smoking marijuana.

By the way, flying an airplane and controlling a boat are also illegal actions when performed under the influence of marijuana.

Were you recently cited for violating one of Arizona’s laws regarding marijuana? If that’s the case, you will need expert legal representation.

A good attorney will argue on your behalf and prove your innocence if you were wrongfully accused. Your attorney can also negotiate for more lenient penalties on your behalf if you were found guilty of violating certain laws.

We at the Schill Law Group are ready to lend our legal expertise to all Arizona residents. Contact us today if you need expert legal minds fighting for you.