Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Last update: April 13, 2023
Arizona’s adult-use sales begin
In 2020, 60% of Arizona voters approved Proposition 207 (the Smart and Safe Act), to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults.
Proposition 207 allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and to possess up to six mature plants at home. Cannabis sales are subject to the normal sales tax rate of 5.6% in addition to a 16% excise tax. The excise tax revenue is used to support regulation by the Arizona Department of Health Services and Department of Public Safety. The remaining revenue is split among the following: community colleges (33%), police and fire departments (31.4%), the state highway fund (25.4%), a justice reinvestment fund (10%), and the attorney general for enforcement (0.2%). According to data from the Arizona Department of Revenue, adult-use cannabis sales reached $950 million in 2022.
Expungement proceeding, but limited
Starting on July 13, 2021, Arizona residents with minor cannabis convictions can apply to have their records expunged as part of the state's expungement program. The program allows individuals with convictions of possessing, transporting, or consuming 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis are eligible to have their records expunged. People with convictions for possessing, cultivating, and transporting up to six cannabis plants at their primary residence can apply to have their records cleared. Individuals with convictions for possession, using, or transporting paraphernalia are also eligible for expungement. Individuals who are eligible for expungement must petition the court to have their records cleared.
Arizona's expungement law is a petition process and not automatic which means it is the responsibility of those with convictions to seek relief. As of August 2021, Maricopa County — Arizona's most populous county ‚— had granted 3,643 petitions for expungement as part of Prop. 207.
According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, in 2018 there were over 14,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Arizona, so we know that the amount of expungement petitions granted are only a fraction of those eligible. To help provide relief to more individuals. the University of Arizona School of Law is launching an expungement clinic to help people through the process. You can find more information on the clinic here.
Social equity applicants hitting roadblocks
Social equity efforts in Arizona have been hamstrung. Prop 207 authorized 26 cannabis establishments for social equity applicants. However, zoning laws including those in Arizona's most populated areas prohibit stand-alone adult use cannabis businesses. A 2022 bill which would have provided social equity applicants with greater zoning flexibility failed to gain traction in the Arizona legislature.
Medical marijuana in Arizona
On November 2, 2010, Arizona voters enacted a medical marijuana initiative — Proposition 203 — with 50.13% of the vote. Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) finalized dispensary and registry identification card regulations on March 28, 2011. To qualify under Arizona’s program, patients must have one of the listed debilitating medical conditions: cancer; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Crohn’s disease; agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; PTSD; or a medical condition that produces wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
Registered patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and may designate one caregiver to possess it on their behalf. Arizona’s law also provides that any patient living 25 miles or more away from a dispensary can cultivate marijuana. Those allowed to cultivate can grow up to 12 plants. Arizona honors visiting patients’ out-of-state registry identification cards for up to 30 days, but they are not valid for obtaining marijuana.
The law also includes extensive civil discrimination protections for medical marijuana patients in the areas of employment, housing, education, organ transplants, and child custody, visitation, and parental rights.
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The Arizona Department of Health Services recently released a draft of rules that will guide implementation of the social equity licensing program for cannabis businesses, which was included as part of the voter-approved Prop 207 that legalized cannabis for adults last year.