Arizona Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Arizona?
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Arizona Law: 

StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD
ArizonaYesYes Yes 

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Arizona?

Yes. During the 2020 election, Arizona became one of four U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults over 21. Through a ballot initiative, 60% of Arizona voters approved Proposition 207, The Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA).  

The SSAA permits:

  • Adults 21 and over may possess up to 1 oz of flower and 5 grams of concentrates at a time. 
  • Home cultivation of 6 plants per individual, and 12 where two or more adults live at the same residence.
  • Marijuana edibles can contain at most 10mg of THC/piece and 100mg/package. 
  • Arizonians convicted of previously possessing less than 1 oz of marijuana or six/fewer plants/paraphernalia can petition to have their record expunged.

Consumption of legal products for adults over 21 years of age must be done in private; recreational use is still illegal in public places. While the SSAA will not affect the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (Prop 203), Medical Marijuana dispensaries will sell recreational products until the Arizona Department of Health Services issues licenses for recreational dispensaries. The ADHS hopes to establish regulations and start issuing licenses by spring 2021. 

Related Articles: Arizona to Unveil Licenses and Draft Rules For Legal Cannabis Market, Get Ready For The Cannabis Cup Arizona: People’s Choice Edition

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Arizona?

Yes. Full-strength medical marijuana has been legal since 2010 with Prop 203. Patients who follow the criteria of ailments approved for medical marijuana use and have a prescription from a doctor can possess up to 2.5 ounces of flower every two weeks and grow up to 12 plants.

Medical marijuana sales are taxable under the retail classification of Arizona’s transaction privilege tax.

Are CBD products legal in Arizona? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

What’s Arizona’s cannabis sales tax? 

5.6% is the sales tax on all retail items, including cannabis

Are there any other Arizona cannabis tax rates?

Yes. State Excise Tax on Retail sales: 16% 

There are also varying city and county sales taxes included with each sale. For example, Phoenix taxes 8.6% for each sale, while Tucson’s tax rate is 8.7%.

Is cannabis delivery legal in Arizona?

No. Currently, adults can only purchase recreational marijuana in licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The ADHS plans to permit recreational deliveries by the start of 2023. 

Arizona’s Cannabis Timeline:

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth”.) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substance scheduling (classification) is determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins”.

1996: Arizona Proposition 200, a passed but ultimately ineffective medical marijuana use bill. 

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs. 

2002: Proposition 203, a failed attempt to decriminalize recreational use.

2010: Proposition 203, The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, legalized the medical use of cannabis, allowing patients with a doctor’s recommendation to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for the treatment of certain qualifying conditions. It limited the number of dispensaries to 124 and specified that only patients who reside more than 25 miles from a dispensary could cultivate their cannabis.

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.


2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

November 2020: “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” Proposition 207, was approved by 60% of Arizona voters, legalizing the adult recreational use of marijuana, specifically by allowing adults in Arizona to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivation of up to 6 marijuana plants. 

Spring 2021: ADHS to publish recreational regulations for licensees.

2023: ADHS to adopt rules to permit recreational deliveries. 

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