Over the past several years there has been a great deal of change surrounding how marijuana is treated as a controlled substance. Until recently, growing marijuana for personal use was viewed as illegal drug cultivation in all 50 states. While some states have gone so far as to legalize or decriminalize growing small amounts of marijuana for personal use, growing even small amounts of marijuana in Arizona is still considered a felony. However, there are some exceptions for certain patients that qualify under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
What If I Was Growing the Marijuana For Personal Use?
Unless you are a patient that qualifies under the exception in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, growing even a small amount of marijuana for personal use is considered a felony in Arizona. If you are caught violating this law, the penalty depends on the amount of marijuana that you are producing. The penalties for illegal cultivation of marijuana is as follows:
- Less than 2 lbs: qualifies as a class 5 felony punishable by up to 2 years and $150,000 fine.
- 2-4 lbs: qualifies as a class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in jail and $150,000 fine.
- 4 lbs: or more qualifies as a class 3 felony punishable by up to 7 years and $150,000 fine.
Will I Need to Spend Time in Prison?
Arizona has mandatory drug sentencing, which means that if you will likely face jail time if convicted for illegally growing marijuana. The minimum sentence for growing even small amounts of marijuana illegally is 9-months in jail.
Can I Grow Marijuana if I Qualify to Use Medical Marijuana?
The answer is it depends. In 2010, Arizona passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allowing patients with certain conditions to use marijuana for medical purposes. A patient seeking the right to use medical marijuana must first fill out an application with the Department of Health Services and receive a state identification card. A full checklist of the information and forms required in the medical marijuana application can be found on the Department of Health Services website.
However, not all patients that qualify to use marijuana may be allowed to grow their own. Qualified patients may only grow their own medical marijuana if they live more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary and they have properly requested the right to do so in their application. Additional information as well as a map of available marijuana dispensaries is available on the Department of Health Services website.
Is Marijuana Cultivation the Same as Marijuana Possession?
No. Marijuana possession involves having marijuana on or near your person (e.g. in your pocket or in your car). Marijuana cultivation is the action of growing the marijuana yourself.
Can a Criminal Lawyer Assist Me with My Drug Cultivation Case?
Illegal cultivation of marijuana carries stiff penalties in Arizona. If you have been charged with a marijuana related offense or if you have questions about legal use and cultivation of marijuana a skilled Arizona criminal lawyer can help.