Is Recreational Weed Legal in Arizona?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 3, 2021
Arizona Cannabis legal
Arizona Cannabis legal

Yes, recreational weed is legal in the state of Arizona, such as in places like Phoenix, Tucson, Tempe, or even Scottsdale. Anyone over the age of 21 can purchase marijuana legally, and a medical marijuana program allows anyone with specific qualifying conditions, regardless of age, to purchase marijuana.


History of Weed Laws

In 1996, medical marijuana laws were approved in The Copper State, as the result of a publicly backed initiative to make cannabis available to terminally ill patients.  Patients were able to acquire a prescription for cannabis, but ultimately the bill was thrown out as a result of an overriding federal law that determined that marijuana cannot be prescribed by doctors due to a lack of FDA approval as a drug.


In 2002, another attempt was made to legalize medical cannabis, with changes made to the legislation to be compatible with federal law.  However, it fell just short of passing.  Finally, in 2010, Arizona voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Question, or Proposition 203, by just 50.13% voter approval.  Medical marijuana sales did not begin until late 2012.


Proposition 203 gave the Arizona Department of Health Services full control by regulating the medical cannabis industry within the state, thus allowing them to determine the qualifying conditions and qualifications of caregivers.  They were also given control to oversee the licensing process of dispensaries throughout the state.


In November 2020, the Smart and Safe Act, or Proposition 207, appeared on the election ballot.  Voters approved, and as a result, recreational marijuana use is now legal for adults 21 and over throughout Arizona, with possession of up to one ounce being permitted.  The law went further to expunge certain marijuana-related criminal records, while imposing a 16% tax on cannabis products sold within the state.  Sales of recreational marijuana began in January of 2021.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Arizona?

Any adult over the age of 20, or a medical patient or qualified caregiver, can legally purchase marijuana from a dispensary that has been licensed by the state of Arizona.  These dispensaries carry a wide range of marijuana products that can accommodate different user needs, including, in addition to flower, topical products, tinctures, edibles and more.


Up to one ounce can be purchased at a time, or a product containing no more than 5 grams of concentrate.  There is a 16% tax on all cannabis products that is paid by consumers at the time of purchase.


Dispensaries in Arizona use an advanced tracking system that controls the amount of cannabis that medical users can purchase and possess, in a way that ensures patients have no more than 2.5 grams per two weeks.  Medical patients pay only a 6.6% tax, while some cities add an additional 2 or 3%.  Many dispensaries throughout the state offer programs that allow patients to pay less if they have proof of financial hardship.


Arizona law states that there can be one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies.  Currently, there is no home delivery service for recreational users, but it is legal for dispensaries to deliver cannabis to the homes of medical patients.


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

With the exception of edibles, cannabis cannot be used in public, and can therefore, only be used at home and other private residences.  This applies to both recreational and medical users.  Driving after consuming cannabis is strictly illegal.


Long-term care facilities can regulate how cannabis can be used, but the law demands that residents are not prohibited from using their products if they are given medical authorization.


Possession Laws

In Arizona, adults 21 or older can legally possess an ounce of cannabis, or 5 grams of concentrate.  Adults can legally give, but not sell, the same amount to other authorized users.  Qualifying medical patients, meanwhile, can have up to 2.5 ounces, and are allowed to share cannabis with other qualifying medical patients.  A landlord cannot legally refuse to rent to, or otherwise punish an individual based on their cannabis usage.


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

A single-resident home can grow up to 6 plants at a time, and homes with 2 or more adults can grow up to 12 plants.  Plants cannot be in public view.  Medical patients are permitted to grow 12 plants even if they are the only adult in a residence. 


Medical Marijuana Program

A medical marijuana program is fully active in Arizona, and adults 18 or over can apply through the state.  Those younger than 18 must have an application filed on their behalf by a legal guardian or caregiver. 


Qualifying Conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • PTSD
  • Cachexia
  • Seizures and other symptoms of epilepsy
  • Severe or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Multiple Sclerosis


The public may petition ADHS to add debilitating medical conditions to this list.


Patient Qualifications:

A patient must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a medical marijuana license and must have proof from a physician that the patient has one of the conditions above.  Individuals below the age of 18 can have a medical marijuana card obtained for them by their parent or legal guardian but must be educated on the risks and benefits of marijuana use by their physician and must have written certifications from two licensed physicians in order to apply.


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Arizona

First, you will need to have a written certification from a physician that diagnoses you with one of the above qualifying conditions and an approval for marijuana as a treatment.  Then, an application must be filed, provided by the state’s website, which is submitted along with the certification.  Your state ID must also be provided, along with a $150 registration fee.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A caregiver must be at least 21 years of age, and a permanent state resident, and can care for up to 5 patients at a time. 


Registering as a Caregiver

A caregiver must prove their age and residence and have a criminal background check performed.  A legal form must be filed that shows your eligibility.


Reciprocity Laws

You cannot purchase medical marijuana in Arizona as a visitor, even with a card, although you can legally possess the same amount as a visitor to the state.  Those who are visiting and are 21 or older can legally purchase cannabis for recreational purposes.


Licensing Laws

Cultivators and businesses can register with the state, as well as lab-testing facilities.  The state requires that all cannabis products are tested by a third-party lab and that the results are submitted to the state.  Overall, the products are tested for safety.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1: When Did Weed Become Legal in Arizona?

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Arizona as of November 2020, when voters approved of the bill after years of consideration.


#2: Is it Legal to Dab in Arizona?

Dabbing is legal in Arizona as long as you have within the legal amount of cannabis concentrates.  You can find concentrates in various dispensaries along with dabbing paraphernalia.


#3: Can I Use Cannabis in Public?

It is illegal to use cannabis in public areas in Arizona, as you can only use it if you are in a private residence including your own home.


#4: Can I Grow My Own Cannabis?

In Arizona, you can grow up to 12 cannabis plants, as long as they are kept out of public view.


#5: Can I Have a Caregiver Buy Medical Marijuana on My Behalf?

Arizona recognizes the need for some patients to have caregivers, and caregivers can apply to act on your behalf.


#6: Can I Buy Edibles in Arizona?

Edibles are permitted throughout Arizona, and you can find them in various dispensaries throughout the state, along with other extract-based products like tinctures and topicals.  Not all dispensaries may carry them, however, so it’s good to call in advance to make sure.