Phoenix Marijuana Defense Attorney

Although marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational purposes in Arizona under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act Smart and Safe Arizona Act, there are still laws against its use. It is a felony to possess, use, sell, produce, transport for sale, import, or transfer more than the permitted quantity of marijuana in this state. If you are facing a felony charge of a marijuana crime or a marijuana DUI charge, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Phoenix marijuana attorney as soon as possible. Contact the AZ Defenders law office for dedicated advocacy and experienced representation.



Why Choose Our Phoenix Marijuana Defense Lawyers?

  • Our Phoenix drug possession lawyers fight aggressively to prevent a marijuana charge from impacting your civil rights and your future. We are one of the most aggressive criminal defense firms in the nation.
  • Our attorneys understand cannabis law and are established, respected members of the legal community. Attorney Craig Rosenstein is a member of the board of the Arizona Justice Project.
  • We have a successful track record defending clients against criminal charges, including those involving a drug crime, with more than two decades of combined experience.

Arizona Marijuana Laws

In 2021, Arizona’s marijuana laws changed significantly under Proposition 207. This law allows the legal recreational use of cannabis for adults ages 21 and older within certain parameters. The possession, consumption or transportation of up to one ounce of marijuana (or five grams of marijuana concentrate) for recreational use is now legal. With a medical marijuana card, you can possess up to 2.5 ounces. Cultivating up to six cannabis plants for personal use at your primary residence is also legal. However, there are still strict laws restricting a resident’s use of marijuana.

While cannabis is not considered a dangerous drug, under Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-3405), it remains unlawful for Arizona residents to knowingly:

  • Possess or use more than the legal amount of marijuana
  • Possess marijuana for sale
  • Produce more than the legal amount of marijuana
  • Transport for sale, import into the state, sell, or transfer marijuana, or offer to do so

As stated in the statute:

  • Possession of less than two pounds of marijuana (not for sale and greater than the allowed one ounce) is a class six felony.
  • Possession of at least two and less than four pounds of marijuana (not for sale) is a class five felony.
  • Possession of four or more pounds of marijuana (not for sale) is a class four felony.
  • Possession of less than two pounds of marijuana for sale is a class four felony.
  • Possession of two to four pounds of marijuana for sale is a class three felony.
  • Possession of more than four pounds of marijuana for sale is a class two felony.
  • Producing less than two pounds of marijuana (and greater than the allowed six plants) is a class five felony.
  • Producing two to four pounds of marijuana is a class four felony.
  • Producing more than four pounds of marijuana is a class three felony.
  • Transporting for sale, importing into the state, selling, or transferring less than two pounds of marijuana, or offering to transport it for sale, import it into the state, sell it, or transfer it, is a class three felony.
  • Transporting for sale, importing into the state, selling, or transferring two or more pounds of marijuana, or offering to transport it for sale, import it into the state, sell it, or transfer it, is a class two felony.

Although marijuana has now been legalized in Arizona, users are still subject to state policies. For example, recreational and medicinal marijuana may not be smoked in public (A.R.S. 36-2851). It is also against the law to drive while impaired by marijuana under Arizona’s DUI laws. Possessing, cultivating or consuming more than the permitted amount of marijuana can also lead to significant criminal penalties. For more information regarding marijuana laws in Arizona, speak with a knowledgeable marijuana lawyer in Phoenix.

Defenses to Marijuana Charges

A strong defense to a marijuana charge in Arizona could save you from the most severe penalties applicable in your case. At the AZ Defenders law office, our Phoenix marijuana lawyers can start your case with an assessment of its facts. With this information, we can create an effective and personalized defense strategy against your criminal offense.

  • Lawful possession. Under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, it is legal to possess small quantities of marijuana if you have a valid medical marijuana identification card. It is also legal to possess small quantities of marijuana for recreational use as of 2021. Your lawyer may be able to demonstrate that you meet all the conditions of the state’s marijuana laws and therefore were in lawful possession of the drug. These laws are very specific.
  • Police misconduct. If the police broke any laws or rules of conduct in investigating your case or making an arrest, your lawyer could use this to file a motion to dismiss certain pieces of evidence, such as drugs that were part of an illegal search and seizure. If an officer stopped you in the street without probable cause, for example, your lawyer may be able to argue the exclusion of any related evidence.
  • Invalid search warrant. If your marijuana-related arrest occurred after the police searched your home or vehicle, your lawyer can assess the validity of the search warrant used. The police in Arizona need either a signed warrant from a judge or probable cause to search. Without a valid warrant, or if the police searched beyond the scope of the warrant, your lawyer can attack the warrant itself.
  • Entrapment. Your Phoenix marijuana defense attorney may be able to use the entrapment defense if the police used illegal tactics to convince you to break the law. An officer might have entrapped you if he or she was part of a sting operation and prompted you to break the law. A successful entrapment defense requires proof that the broken law was the police officer’s idea and that you were not inclined to commit the crime prior to prompting.
  • Wrong defendant. If the marijuana in question was not in your possession, but in your vicinity, it may be possible to assert that the drugs were not yours. The prosecution will have the burden to prove the drugs were yours beyond a reasonable doubt. Mere proximity to an illegal drug does not prove possession. Your lawyer may be able to argue that the prosecution has the wrong defendant.
  • Ignorance. The burden of proof during a marijuana criminal case also entails establishing that you knowingly possessed the drug. It may be possible to argue this fact if someone planted the drugs on you or if someone came into your vehicle or home while possessing marijuana without your knowledge. If your possession was not knowing, it was not a violation of Arizona’s marijuana laws.

Other defense possibilities your criminal defense attorney can explore include planted drugs, missing drugs (missing evidence), a crime lab analysis showing the alleged drug is not a drug and lack of control over the marijuana. The right defense could prevent life-changing consequences and help you move forward with less of a criminal record for a marijuana-related charge.

Phoenix Marijuana Lawyer

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Arizona

Penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use depend in part on the amount possessed. Possession offenses can often be reduced to a class one misdemeanor with the help of a Phoenix defense attorney experienced with drug possession charges. In addition, you may be able to attend and complete a diversion or education program and have the charges dismissed.

Proposition 200 prevents nonviolent first and second-offense drug users from being sentenced to jail time. After a third conviction, however, you may be facing incarceration. Sale of marijuana and possession with intent to sell come with harsh penalties, including large fines and prison terms.

Alternatives to Jail for Marijuana Possession

A few different statutes authorize sentences that offer alternatives to jail or prison time for marijuana offenses. ARS 13-901.01, for example, allows for a sentence of probation instead of a prison sentence. Other common alternative sentences are diversion and deferred sentencing. Probation means the defendant must keep up with certain conditions such as drug testing or else go to jail. Diversion is a program intended to keep the defendant away from drugs, such as counseling or treatment. Deferred sentencing is the postponement of a sentence while the defendant completes certain requirements for his or her criminal offense, such as community service or house arrest. A marijuana offense does not necessarily mean jail time. Your marijuana attorney in Phoenix can explain the possible alternatives to jail in more detail.

Can You Have a Marijuana Conviction Expunged in Arizona?

 Proposition 207 in Arizona created a new statute, A.R.S. 36-2862, that helps people seal their marijuana-related criminal records. It authorizes eligible petitioners to request a court order using marijuana expungement forms. Even if you were never convicted of a crime, you could petition to have your arrest record sealed. If you were arrested for, charged with, convicted or acquitted of any of these marijuana crimes for conduct that occurred before November 30, 2020, you can file a petition for record sealing: 

  • Possessing, consuming or transporting no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, of which not more than 12.5 grams was marijuana concentrate.
  • Possessing, cultivating, processing or transporting not more than six marijuana plants for personal use.
  • Possessing, using or transporting paraphernalia related to the consumption, cultivation or processing of marijuana.

This law went into effect on July 12, 2021. If you had more than one marijuana charge brought against you, you must go through the petitioning process for each case number you want sealed. If the courts grant your request, a marijuana-related conviction or sentence will be vacated. You will no longer need to pay any fines still owed and your court file and law enforcement records will be sealed. This means they will only be available to you and your attorney in the future. Any lost rights, such as the right to bear arms or vote, may also be restored.

What to Do if You Get Arrested on a Marijuana Charge in Phoenix

 If you get arrested on one or more charges related to marijuana in Phoenix, try to remain calm and remember how to protect your rights. What you do and say in the moments immediately after your arrest can have a significant impact on your case. Here’s what to do:

  1. Do not resist arrest. You will have the chance to fight any charges brought against you later, with help from a criminal defense lawyer. Resisting arrest can lead to additional charges brought against you and put you at risk of suffering serious injuries.
  2. Use your right to remain silent. You are not legally required to answer any questions asked of you by law enforcement officers, other than your name. Do not give any information to police officers until you have an attorney present.
  3. Contact an attorney. Call (480) 933-1286 as soon as possible to speak to a marijuana defense lawyer in Phoenix. A lawyer can immediately go to work on getting you out of jail, building your defense strategy, and representing you during an arraignment and other hearings.

In some cases, an attorney can have your charges reduced or dismissed without you ever needing to spend a day in jail or appear in court. If your marijuana case does go to trial, retain an attorney with a history of success in your practice area for the greatest possible outcome. When you are facing significant penalties for a marijuana crime in Arizona, you need an experienced defense lawyer.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Phoenix Marijuana Lawyer

If law enforcement has arrested and charged you with a marijuana crime in Phoenix or anywhere in the state, contact AZ Defenders right away. Our Phoenix marijuana defense attorneys have in-depth knowledge of marijuana laws and the criminal justice system in Arizona, and we will raise every possible defense against the charges. Call our office at (480) 456-6400 or submit an online form to discuss your legal issue.

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