Marijuana Crimes in Arizona
Marijuana crimes are covered in A.R.S. 13-3405. Many people would be surprised to know that even simple possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use is, under the statute, a felony. On the other hand, just because you have been charged does not mean that you will be convicted, or that you will go to jail. The following are the basics of the criminal laws relating to marijuana in Arizona
- Possession or use of Marijuana. Simple possession of pot, without more.
- Under two pounds – Class 6 felony.
- Two to (under) four pounds – Class 5 felony.
- Four pounds or more – Class 4 felony.
- Possession for Sale of Marijuana. Possessing marijuana with intent to sell.
- Under two pounds – Class 4 felony.
- Two to (under) four pounds – Class 3 felony.
- Four pounds or more – Class 2 felony.
- Production of Marijuana. Includes growing, cultivating, processing, harvesting, and preparing for sale.
- Under two pounds – Class 5 felony.
- Two to (under) four pounds – Class 4 felony.
- Four pounds or more – Class 3 felony.
- Sale of Marijuana. Includes transporting for sale, importing into Arizona, selling, or offering to do so.
- Under two pounds – Class 3 felony.
- Two pounds or more – Class 2 felony.
Many people are surprised to find that all marijuana crimes in Arizona, including possession of a small amount for personal use, are felonies. On the other hand, “trace” amounts of marijuana will not ordinarily support valid charge. In order to be convicted, you must have possessed a “usable amount” of marijuana.
Marijuana Penalties in Maricopa County
Although the classification of marijuana offenses appears harsh, the fact that you have been charged does not mean that you will be convicted, or that you will have to suffer the more severe of the possible penalties, including jail or prison time:
- While the offense of possession of under two pounds of marijuana is classified as a felony, we may be able to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. And depending upon your prior criminal history, probation may be available in lieu of jail. In fact, A.R.S. 13-901.01 specifically allows many of those convicted of possession of drugs (including marijuana) for personal use to be placed on probation. Possession of higher amounts of pot will carry more severe penalties, including in some case a presumptive sentence of incarceration.
- Diversionary Programs. Diversionary programs may be available, depending upon the specifics of your case, and your prior criminal history, The Treatment Assessment Screening Center is one such program that operates in Maricopa Counties and in other areas in Arizona. TASC offers an opportunity for deferred prosecution to first-time offenders charged with possession of marijuana for personal use, although entry into the TASC program is not automatic. The program includes drug counseling and drug testing, and could lead to a dismissal of your marijuana charge.
- Sale, Possession for Sale, Production, Transporting, Importing Marijuana. All these offenses are classified as felonies, and can carry sentences of years in prison if you are convicted.
- In addition to any other fines or penalties, anyone convicted of a marijuana crime is subject to a fine equal to three times the value of the marijuana in question in the case, not to exceed $150,000. The minimum fine is $750.
Obviously the range of potential penalties is substantial, running from diversion, to probation, to incarceration, along with fines and penalties that could be significant.
Additional Marijuana-Related Offenses
Possession, use, sale, cultivating and transporting are not the only illegal activities related to marijuana. Other crimes include:
- DUI Marijuana. Being under the influence of marijuana can lead to a charge of DUI in Arizona. However, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the mere presence of a particular metabolite of marijuana (Carboxy-THC) in your system is insufficient, in and of itself, for a conviction. In order to sustain a conviction, the use of the marijuana need not be illegal. A conviction can be based upon legal use under the Medical Marijuana Act.
- Drug paraphernalia can be the subject of a criminal charge, even without the presence of marijuana or another drug. Possession is a class 6 felony.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has been in effect for a number of years. Providing you follow the specifics of the Act, you may use marijuana legally. But the Act does not provide any protection unless the marijuana is being used strictly in accordance with the statutory requirements. It is not a defense to a DUI charge.
Defending Marijuana Cases in Phoenix, Arizona
As we said at the outset, being charged with a marijuana crime does not mean you will be convicted. Downgraded charges, dismissals, and diversionary programs may be available. But in order to ensure that you receive the most favorable treatment in your case, hiring an experienced Phoenix marijuana attorney is essential.
The issues in your case could include illegal search and seizure, questions about whether you actually possessed the drug, entrapment, including police “stings,” and others. You want to know that your lawyer has the knowledge, experience and dedication to explore every possible opportunity to present an aggressive and well thought out defense in your case. If you are facing any marijuana charge, the attorneys at Feldman & Royle can help.
Call Feldman & Royle today at 602-899-8000 for a free, confidential consultation.