Arizona Drug Possession Law – Penalties and Defenses
Arizona’s drug laws have many details when it comes to prohibitions and penalties. Penalties for drug possession in this state depend on the type of substance, your previous criminal history, and whether you get charged for simple possession, possession with intent to sell or personal use.
If you are discovered under the influence, carrying drugs (on you or near you), chances are you will be charged with felony drug possession.
Drug possession laws
- Dangerous Drug – This is a Class 4 felony. If you were not previously convicted, and if the drug was not an amphetamine such as meth, you can get a possible reduction to Class 1 misdemeanor. The fine is $2000 and more; sometimes, it can be three times the value of the substance (usually the bigger penalty is picked). You can get up to one year in jail without prior convictions or up to 3.75 years in prison with prior convictions.
- Narcotic (cocaine) – This is a Class 4 felony; if there are no previous convictions or felony, there is a chance for reduction to Class 1 misdemeanor. You will be fined at $2000 and more or three times the value of substance. If no prior convictions, you can get up to one year in jail, up to 15 years with two prior convictions.
- Marijuana (less than 2lbs) – This is a Class 6 felony in case if you were using it for personal use. It can be reduced to a misdemeanor. It can be considered a Class 5 felony if the marijuana was personally produced and Class 4 felony if you were selling it. Fines are no less than $2000 or three times the value of the substance (the larger fine will always take place). Prison time goes up to one year without prior convictions and up to 3.75 years with prior convictions.
Classification of Drugs in Arizona
State law classifies illegal drugs in six categories: marijuana, peyote, prescription drugs, dangerous drugs, narcotic drugs, and substances that emit toxic vapors. Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, but using it for recreational purposes, possessing it or selling it, as well as cultivating it for non-medical purposes, is considered a crime.
There is a threshold amount that is considered as unlawful:
- Heroin – 1 gram
- Cocaine – 9 grams
- PCP – 4 grams or 50 milliliters
- Methamphetamine – 9 grams of methamphetamine
- Amphetamine – 9 grams
- Marijuana – 2 pounds
Drug Possession Penalties
If you possess less than two pounds of Marijuana, you will face fines and probation; the penalty includes jail time to 5.75 years, depending on whether you had prior convictions.
If you are caught possessing controlled dangerous drug you face class 6 felony; the penalty ranges between four months to two years in jail and a high fine of $150 000.
Drug possession defenses
- Illegal search – The Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution guarantees protection against unlawful search procedures.
- Medical Marijuana – Your defense can be successful if you own less than 2.5 ounces, and proof that it was purchased from a licensed marijuana suspensory.
- Religious Use – This is another option; if the drug was used for religious purposes and was not used for selling or any other threat to the community.
- Lack of knowledge – You cannot be convicted if you did not know you were carrying or having the drugs.
On an unrelated topic, click here for information on Arizona making its animal cruelty laws tougher.