In this article we’ll give you information on how to get a medical marijuana card in Arizona, as well as provide an overview of the program and the state’s marijuana laws in general.
Being a typically conservative state, Arizona’s medical marijuana program has been a long time coming. And now that it’s here, it’s not without its fair share of controversy.
Some of the medical conditions which qualify residents for a medical marijuana card include chronic pain, cancer, PTSD, epilepsy and others. We’ll provide a complete list below.
Arizona Marijuana Overview
Over the past few years, the legality of both medical marijuana and CBD oil made from hemp has been a hotly debated topic among Arizona lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and courts.
The confusion stems from conflicting Arizona cannabis laws. Under older state laws the term “cannabis” refers not to the plant cannabis, but to the drugs produced from cannabis — which is technically referred to as marijuana, causing a conflict in the two laws. Moreover, there were questions as to the legality of CBD produced from hemp.
In May of 2018 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey cleared things up a bit, at least in reference to CBD, when he signed legislation creating a hemp pilot program to further research and development into the cultivation of the valuable crop.
Although the law became clearer, law enforcement and public health officials didn’t seem to be so clear on the concept. Anti-marijuana law enforcement officials began arresting and convicting people for possession of CBD vape pens. Their argument was that they are not covered by the state’s medical marijuana measures. And they are right. Because CBD is not made from marijuana. What they were actually saying was that oils and concentrates are not covered under the state’s medical marijuana program.
Then, in the late Spring of 2018, the prohibitionists struck again when an Arizona appeals court upheld a decision by a lower court and ruled that cannabis extracts are not protected by the medical marijuana law. Since then, advocates have since appealed the case to the state’s Supreme Court to argue that the language in the state’s medical marijuana laws does, indeed, legalize extracts of the cannabis plant.
Taking an anti-cannabis stance and the state’s attorney general asked the court to dismiss the case. However, in October of 2018, the he reversed his stance. In a statement regarding the case he said, “We believe this matter deserves a higher court to provide some certainty.” And an official statement from his office claimed that the “last thing the attorney general wants to do is stand in the way of legitimate patients getting access to their medicine.”
The ongoing battle is still ongoing. Nonetheless, the Arizona health officials have not instructed dispensaries to stop selling cannabis oil. Sadly, unless the state’s Supreme Court overturns the lower court’s ruling, medical marijuana patients, and anyone else for that matter, that is caught with cannabis oils will be prosecuted under the state’s strict marijuana laws.
All the bickering over medical marijuana may be a moot point in the not-too-distant future as a legalization measure titled the “Arizona Marijuana Legalization, Ban on Taxes, and Automatic Pardons Initiative” is expected to be on the state’s 2020 ballot.
Although the initiative is focused on legalizing the use of marijuana by adults, it could also eliminate the risk of being afoul of the state’s marijuana laws just for using a vape pen. The collecting of signatures for the ballot initiative petition is expected to launch before July. In order to get on the ballot, they must collect 237,645 valid signatures by July 2, 2020.
Although a similar initiative was defeated in the most recent election, advocates are expecting a better outcome this time around.
Political consultant Stacy Pearson, whose firm is running the campaign, said in a statement, “The last four or five years of this have been light years in terms of industry development and maturity. So, this isn’t an experiment anymore in the Western states. There are things that have worked that can be replicated and things that haven’t worked in other states that can be avoided,” Pearson said. “It’s a smarter, better researched, more mature industry and campaign.”
The language for the initiative is still being finalized.
Let’s get into the actual letter of the law.
Arizona Marijuana Laws
Before we get into the details of the Arizona medical marijuana program, here’s a word of warning: Arizona has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the nation.
The possession of any amount of marijuana up to 2 pounds is a Class 6 felony — not a misdemeanor, a felony. The punishment for such an offense is a minimum and mandatory prison sentence of 4 months with a maximum of 2 years. It also comes with a minimum fine of $1,000. And that’s just you’re holding onto some cannabis for personal use. If you’re convicted of selling the stuff you’re looking at least a year behind bars. Life will not be fun.
Arizona also has strict drugged driving laws which apply to medical marijuana patients and everyone else. And the limit for detectable THC in your blood? There is no minimum. If you are found to have any THC in your blood you are considered to be “drugged.” Aside from hefty fines and legal fees, you could lose your license or even enjoy some nice relaxing jail time.
One of the downsides of Arizona medical marijuana laws is that lab testing is not required. Therefore buyers have no idea of knowing whether or not their cannabis contains contaminants and toxins. In fact, Arizona is the only state to legalize medical marijuana without requiring lab testing.
Recently, however, in March of 2019 SB1494, a bill with bipartisan support could require producers to use independent, third-party labs to test marijuana products for harmful toxins, molds, and other contaminants passed through the state’s Senate with a unanimous vote. The bill now awaits approval by the House of Representatives.
Another issue came up just recently which concerns the use of medical marijuana in parked cars. Arizona’s medical marijuana law does not allow smoking in public places. Recently a state court ruled that the possession of a medical marijuana card does not provide legal protections if the card holder is using the drug in a car.
The above case arose when two Arizonans were caught smoking marijuana inside a parked car parked near at a music festival. Lawyers for the two defendants argued that their medical-marijuana cards provided immunity from prosecution, while the prosecution argued that they ceded their immunity by smoking marijuana in a public place. Unfortunately for these two people the court’s decision confirms their conviction.
Interestingly, one judge on the panel clarified that immunity still applies to a medical card holders if they are using marijuana in a place that is traditionally private. This would include a closed bedroom of a mobile home parked in a public lot.
Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws
The state has been developing a medical marijuana program in Arizona 2010 when residents approve the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) by a super-slim margin of about one quarter of one percent of the vote. Arizona become the 14th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana.
Two previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona in 1996 and 1998 were both passed by a slim margin but neither of them took effect. In 1996, the Arizona state legislature felt they knew better than their constituents and killed the idea. Then in 1998 the lawmakers crafted a law that only allowed the use of “FDA approved” medical marijuana (there will never be such a thing because every crop is different).
Since the inception of the AMMA, lawmakers have passed a number of laws which further restrict patents’ options. HB 2541 allowed Arizona employers to fire employees if anyone tattled on them for using medical marijuana. HB 2349 prohibited the use of medical marijuana on all school campuses throughout the state. And HB 2346 assured that the state would not have to pay for medical marijuana treatment for those under worker compensation.
The AMMA allows registered patient to purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. And if you’re more than 25 miles away from a dispensary, then you are allowed to to grow your own, but you have to receive permission from the state. Now if you’re thinking of moving so you can grow your own, be advised that the marijuana laws in Arizona seem to change with the seasons and that right can easily be taken away.
Furthermore, if you are unable to grow your own or get to a dispensary you can appoint a designated caregiver to help you acquire legal medical marijuana in Arizona. Look below for links to more information on how to become a designated caregiver in Arizona.
According the Arizona Dept. of Health Services there are nearly 200,000 medical marijuana patients in the state and more than 30 dispensaries.
How To Get an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card
Assuming you’re not a minor, and assuming you are a legal resident of Arizona, procuring a medical marijuana card in Arizona is not difficult. The catch is you have to be deemed by a physician to be suffering from a limited number of ailments on the state’s qualifying conditions list.
If you do not have one of these qualifying medical conditions, the rest of this article will be of no use to you, so let’s get that out of the way.
Here are the qualifying medical conditions for an Arizona medical marijuana card:
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
If you’ve got one of these conditions, or you can convince a doctor that you’ve got one of them, you’re good to go. Make an appointment.
If your physician approves you for medical marijuana, they will usually submit documents to the Dept. of Health Services for you. If they won’t do that, then you’ll need to get your doctor to sign a Physician Certification Form.
Aside from the cost of the doctor appointment, you’ll have to cough up $250 annually to remain a cardholder in good standing.
Around one week after all your paperwork is taken care of, your medical marijuana card should arrive in the mail.
If you want to know the status of your application you can go to the Dept. of Health Services website and check up on it.
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Medical Marijuana Reciprocity in Arizona
If you’re a medical marijuana patient from another state you might be able to legally take your meds in Arizona if you’re holding your out-of-state medical marijuana card — but you can’t marijuana in Arizona. Furthermore, technically, you need to be diagnosed with one of the conditions on the state’s qualifiers list.
Is CBD Oil Legal In Arizona?
Is CBD oil legal in Arizona? Well, that depends. If your CBD oil was made from hemp rather than marijuana, you’re legal. Hemp refers to strains of cannabis that are essentially devoid of THC, the compound that gets you high.
Not only can anyone purchase CBD oil in Arizona, unlike medical marijuana, THC-infused edibles such as gummy bears, baked goods, beverages, capsules, etc. are also available, as are vape oils and topical skin creams.
For an in-depth look at Arizona CBD laws check out this article.
Where To Buy Medical Marijuana In Arizona
Once you have your Arizona medical marijuana card in hand, you are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of dried flower (buds).
Interestingly, unlike other states where buds are prohibited and only things like tinctures and edibles are allowed, in Arizona only bud is allowed and edibles, and concentrates such as oils and hash are illegal. Even more interestingly, some dispensaries sell them anyway.
There are more than 30 dispensaries throughout the state of Arizona.
Visit CBDbay.app if you’re interested purchasing CBD oil and other CBD infused products.