Drugs continue to be a serious threats to public safety throughout the country. States are fighting the spread of those dangerous substances in their own ways with the help of their drug crime laws.
The state of Arizona has its own tough laws on the books that seek to stamp out the rampant spread of drugs in our neighborhoods. You need to know more about those laws to truly understand how costly it could be if authorities catch you using or possessing those problematic substances.
In this article, we will go in-depth on Arizona’s drug crime laws. We’ll talk about what constitutes a drug offense, the substances you must avoid, and the penalties you may face if you dabble in drugs. Feel free to read on if you also want to learn the latest developments involving Arizona’s marijuana laws.
Arizona’s New Marijuana Laws
First off, let’s talk about marijuana because the Grand Canyon State recently adopted big changes that affect how they police that substance. In case you missed it, Arizona residents approved Proposition 207 in the general election.
Also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, Proposition 207 significantly changes the laws regarding marijuana possession, usage, and cultivation. It legalizes the possession, usage, and cultivation of marijuana for Arizona residents assuming they meet certain conditions.
The New Marijuana Possession and Usage Laws
With the passage of Proposition 207, adults over the age of twenty-one in Arizona can now legally possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. They can also buy marijuana provided that the amount they purchase does not exceed one ounce.
Previously, Arizona residents needed medical clearance if they wanted to possess, purchase, or use marijuana legally.
Notably, those with a medical exemption for marijuana usage can continue purchasing and using marijuana. For them, the purchasing limit is 2.5 ounces over fourteen days.
The New Marijuana Cultivation Laws
Proposition 207 has also ushered in new laws about marijuana cultivation. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, adults over the age of twenty-one are legally allowed to cultivate their own marijuana plants at their private residence.
The number of marijuana plants they can cultivate in one home can vary depending on who lives there. If there’s one adult present, the limit of marijuana plants that can be grown is six. If there are two or more adults present, they can cultivate up to twelve marijuana plants.
Cultivation is also legal for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. They can grow up to twelve marijuana plants at their residence if the nearest dispensary is more than twenty-five miles away.
Violations Related to Marijuana
It’s important to point out here that there are still laws that limit the possession, usage, and cultivation of marijuana in Arizona. Let’s detail them in this section.
Marijuana Possession Violations
Remember that adults over the age of twenty-one can only possess one ounce of marijuana. Exceed that limit even by a tenth of an ounce, and you could receive a $300 fine, according to NORML.
If they catch you in possession of more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, you’re looking at potentially up to 1.5 years in jail and a maximum fine of $150,000. For possessing more than two but less than four pounds of marijuana, jail time goes up to potentially two years, and the maximum fine is $150,000.
Individuals caught in possession of more than four pounds of marijuana may be incarcerated for up to three years and fined up to $150,000.
Marijuana Usage Violations
There are limits still placed on marijuana usage in the state of Arizona. Even if you’re an adult, you are not allowed to smoke marijuana in public.
Operating any vehicle is also illegal if you used marijuana. They may cite individuals found guilty of committing that offense for DUI. You must deal with the penalties that accompany a DUI. You’ll have to deal with the penalties that accompany a DUI violation.
Marijuana Cultivation Violations
Apart from limiting the number of marijuana plants adults can grow, Arizona law also indicates that you must cultivate the plants in a specific area. Individuals who want to grow their own marijuana must use an enclosed area in their home to grow the plants. You must also secure the enclosed area with a lock or device to keep its contents away from minors.
Growing more marijuana plants than what is legally allowed is a felony. Violators could be incarcerated for up to seven years and fined up to $150,000.
Marijuana Selling Violations
You should also note that selling the marijuana you grow inside your home could be an illegal action. Arizona residents must first secure clearance to operate as a marijuana establishment if they want to sell their cultivated plants.
Selling more than the legally allowed amount of marijuana is considered a felony. Penalties will climb depending on how much you illegally sold. In cases where an individual sold more than four pounds of marijuana, that person could receive up to ten years and a $150,000 fine.
Marijuana Trafficking Violations
Marijuana can now be legally bought and sold within Arizona. However, bringing in marijuana from another state into Arizona still counts as a trafficking offense. The severity of the penalties you’ll face for trafficking will depend on how much marijuana you attempted to smuggle into the state.
Attempting to bring in less than two pounds of marijuana can lead to being incarcerated for up to seven years and getting hit with a $150,000 fine. For trafficking more than two pounds of marijuana, the fine stays the same, but the maximum sentence goes up to ten years.
Marijuana Laws Regarding Minors
Although Proposition 207 has relaxed the laws regarding marijuana possession, usage, and cultivation for adults, they remain strict for minors. If you’re under the age of twenty-one, possessing or using marijuana is out of the question.
Minors caught with marijuana will be charged with a civil penalty the first time around. A second violation will lead to a petty offense charge, while a third violation translates to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Arizona’s Dangerous Drug Crime Laws
It’s fair to say that Arizona’s attitude towards marijuana has changed. That’s only one drug of note, however. You’ll find that the state remains strict when it comes to substances classified as “dangerous drugs.”
So, what are the “dangerous drugs” according to Arizona law?
Per the law, a dangerous drug is any material, compound, or mixture that contains certain hallucinogenic substances. Those hallucinogenic substances in question include isomers, salts, and salts of isomers. Cannabimimetic items with those same hallucinogenic substances also qualify as dangerous drugs unless they received a specific exemption.
Stimulants that contain those hallucinogenic substances that are prone to abuse similarly qualify as dangerous drugs. Depressants that can be abused are also regarded as dangerous drugs, according to Arizona law. Items that contain anabolic steroids, their esters, isomers, and/or their salts are similarly considered as dangerous drugs.
Specific examples of dangerous drugs include amphetamines, ketamine, and methamphetamine, to name a few.
Violations Involving Dangerous Drugs
The state of Arizona is not lenient when it comes to dangerous drugs. Residents can violate the state’s drug laws in a variety of ways. They also come with harsh penalties.
Possessing, using, or selling any dangerous drug is illegal in the state. Residents are also forbidden from manufacturing or even owning the equipment and chemicals used to produce dangerous drugs. Trafficking and administering dangerous drugs to another person are also considered illegal actions.
Penalties for Dangerous Drug Violations
You could receive a long prison sentence if you’re guilty of violating Arizona’s dangerous drug laws. When it comes to methamphetamines specifically, the prison sentences are long.
Individuals who sell, produce, and possess items for trafficking methamphetamine are looking at five years in prison at the least.
Often, though, the prison sentence handed down to those who committed those violations is ten years. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the sentence could go all the way up to fifteen years.
Residents who repeat those violations will be looking at even longer prison sentences.
At a minimum, a repeat offender can expect to spend ten years in prison. The maximum sentence is twenty years, while the presumptive sentence is fifteen years.
Depending on the violation you committed, you may also be deemed ineligible for parole or to have your prison sentence suspended.
Beyond the prison sentence, violators can receive fines. The minimum is $1,000. The fine could also be equivalent to three times the value of the items that constituted the dangerous drug violation.
Violators can also receive probation. During their probation, violators must render at least 360 hours of community restitution.
What Is a Serious Drug Offense in Arizona?
Violations that involve dangerous drugs are handled seriously in Arizona. On top of that, the state makes additional efforts to curb the spread of illegal drugs by clamping down hard on serious drug offenders.
When referring to serious drug offenses, we’re mainly talking about violations that involve producing, selling, and trafficking drugs.
There’s also a financial element that turns what could otherwise be a regular drug offense into a serious drug offense. More specifically, if the individual caught made upwards of $25,000 from their drug dealings, their violation will likely a serious drug offense.
You can receive a serious drug offense if you’re part of a larger network of people dealing drugs.
Penalties for Committing a Serious Drug Offense in Arizona
People caught violating one of Arizona’s dangerous drug laws could end up in prison for more than a decade. That prison sentence pales in comparison to what you could receive for a serious drug offense.
Whether you were a solo drug offender or part of a network, you may receive life in prison if you’re convicted. Like with dangerous drug violations, you cannot be pardoned or get your sentence suspended easily. Serious drug offenders must spend a minimum of twenty-five years in prison before they become eligible to get their sentence commuted.
Considering how long a potential prison sentence can be if you’re convicted, fighting the false charges against you is crucial. You’ll need a skilled and experienced lawyer to take up your case.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Fight Your Drug Charges
Arizona residents accused of violating one of the state’s drug crime laws can use different defenses in court.
If you believe that the police planted drugs on you during a routine traffic stop or some other previous interaction, your lawyer can hone in on that during the trial. Your lawyer may also argue that they obtained the illegal drugs through an illegal search.
Given the new laws that the state has enacted regarding marijuana, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a police officer may mistakenly arrest you. If that does indeed happen, your lawyer can point out that you did nothing illegal. Your lawyer may even argue that you are due compensation for the mistake made in your case.
A police officer may also mistakenly assume that you possessed an illegal amount of marijuana. That may happen if the officer didn’t know about your medical exemption. Once again, that’s a scenario where your lawyer can prove your innocence and possibly even get you some compensation.
There are also police officers that resort to trapping private citizens to make arrests. Citing an occurrence of entrapment is a viable defense in some drug cases. Allow your lawyer to emphasize that point if applicable during your defense.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that a drug charge can ruin your life. If you are innocent of the crime, you need to fight back and prove your innocence.
Allow us at the Quirk Law Group to fight on your behalf. Contact us today and find out how we can help you combat the bogus drug charges you’re facing.