The use of Marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legalized in Arizona. Many patients now enjoy chronic pain relief as well as other ailments treatment through the use of medical Marijuana. However, the state of Arizona has stringent laws concerning its growing, possession, and use. If you grow cannabis without the necessary permits, you risk being charged with a felony. The penalties for illegally growing or possessing Marijuana in Arizona are very severe. The state has given legal guidelines on who can cultivate and how much can be grown at a time. If you find yourself charged with allegations of violating these laws, you must seek the services of a criminal defense lawyer immediately. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we are experienced in Marijuana laws and will offer you an excellent defense.
Who is Permitted to Grow Marijuana in Arizona?
Despite the use of Marijuana for medical reasons being legalized in Arizona, not everyone is allowed to grow it. Before you decide to grow cannabis, it is crucial to know who is authorized. If you are found growing it without the necessary permits, you risk being prosecuted.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are only 169,478 registered patients as of May 2018 and 935 caregivers. These patients are qualified under the law of medical Marijuana to use it for medicinal purposes.
The Medical Marijuana Act indicates that only patients living 25 miles or more from Marijuana dispensaries are allowed to cultivate their Marijuana. However, before the patient or their caregiver embarks on growing it, they must seek approval from the state. Additionally, patients are allowed to have over 2.5 ounces at any time of medical Marijuana. Even with a permit to grow and use Marijuana, it is a criminal offense to share or sell Marijuana to individuals that do not have the medical card.
For any person to grow Marijuana, there are specific requirements set by the state. Being a Marijuana cardholder, however, does not authorize an individual to grow pot. However, when you are approved as a cardholder, you can only grow a maximum of 12 plants within a secured or locked facility. The law further states that only the cardholder is permitted to go inside the facility and take care of the plants.
Additionally, as earlier stated, an individual must be living 25 miles or beyond the nearest legally authorized Marijuana clinic.
Consequences of a Growing Marijuana Conviction
Aside from imprisonment and other court penalties, as discussed later, a conviction on these felony charges can result in various adverse outcomes. Some of the other implications for illegally growing or possessing Marijuana in Arizona are:
- The defendant loses the right to have or own a firearm
- The defendant is not allowed to vote in any elections
- Because of your record, you can be denied college admission
- Stringent fines can cause financial strains
- Your conviction can cost you your job
- A possibility of losing a professional license or its suspension
How to Become a Medical Marijuana Cardholder
As earlier stated, to be authorized to grow Marijuana, you must meet the two conditions of distance and being a cardholder. The next question would be,
“How would one qualify to be a cardholder?”
For a person that wants to use Marijuana for medical purposes, they must first register with the Department of Health Services of Arizona. To qualify, one must:
- Be of legal age, that is, eighteen years or over
- Be a holder of an Identity Card (ID) issued by the government
- Have medical records from their doctor for the past one year
- Be suffering from a severe medical condition such as severe nausea, cancer, HIV, chronic pain, PSD, and glaucoma.
There are, however, two types of patients that may qualify to get a medical card: adult patients and underage patients. For patients below 18 years, their parents, guardians, or designated caregivers are charged with the responsibility of the card.
When applying for the card for a patient below the age of 18, they must provide the following information:
- Their full names, date of birth, and gender
- The address and county where the patient lives as well as their mailing address
- Their contact information or telephone number
- Their email address to receive confidential information through
- Their physician’s name, address, and telephone contact of the physician supporting your claim.
- The license number of your physician, their state of licensing and the kind of license they hold
- The details of a second physician attesting to your condition, their license number, state of licensing and type of license
- The health conditions that qualify the patient to get the permit
- Indicate whether the authorized caregiver seeks authority to grow Marijuana
- Indicate if the caregiver or parent wants to receive information about various Marijuana research programs
- Indicate if the parent or the patient qualifies for supplemental nutrition assistance program
- All the details for the caregiver or parent, such as their names, address, social security number, their ID number, telephone, and email contact, as well as their mailing address
For adult patients, the requirements are the same as those of a patient below the age of 18. The only difference being that they are not required to give information about their parents or caregivers.
It is important to note that if one desires to grow Marijuana, they must be medical recipients and hold a medical card to the same. When a person grows Marijuana without following the regulations, one risks being prosecuted on drug crimes, and the penalties are very severe. Possession of Marijuana also is a crime in Arizona if you do not hold a medical card.
Penalties for Possessing Marijuana when not a Cardholder or Medical Recipient
Even when you are using Marijuana or growing it for medicinal purposes, possession of Marijuana with no medical card is an offense that can lead to severe penalties. A few of the repercussions you would face include:
- When found in possession of two pounds or less of Marijuana, you will face class six possession of Marijuana if you do not have a medical card. Lack of a card is an offense that can lead to severe penalties. When convicted, you are likely to serve jail time of between four months and twenty-four months. Besides, you will be charged a cash fine not exceeding $1,000. Should you be sentenced to probation, you will be required to do community service for 24 hours.
- If the defendant has a previous conviction on felony charges, they will not be sentenced to probation but an automatic prison sentence of between nine months and thirty-three months. If the prior convictions are two for felony charges, the defendant will face imprisonment for 27 months to sixty-nine months.
- If you are found with Marijuana between 2 and 4 pounds, the felony charges against you will be those of class 5. A conviction will result in jail time of between six months and thirty months. Additionally, you will be required to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 as well as community service in the event you are sentenced to probation.
- If the defendant has a prior felony conviction, another conviction will result in a jail sentence of between twelve months and forty-five months. A defendant with two other prior convictions will face jail time of between 36 to 90 months.
- A person caught with four pounds or more of Marijuana will face felony prosecution under class 4. They risk jail time of between one year and four years if convicted. Additionally, one will be required to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 and community service in case of probation sentencing.
- If a defendant has a prior conviction, a second conviction will lead to a prison sentence of between 27 months and 90 months. A defendant with two prior felony convictions, a third conviction will lead to prison time of between six years and fifteen years.
Other aggravating factors will enhance the penalties. If you have the necessary equipment or tools to grow cannabis, traffic, or sell to others, the penalties increase. Possession of edibles, as well as other consumables, will be prosecuted as well.
Even with a medical card and you are found flaunting the rules, you will face criminal charges just like a non-medical cardholder would.
What Happens if you are Found Illegally Cultivating Marijuana?
If you illegally cultivate Marijuana in Arizona, you risk felony charges in drug crimes. When faced with these allegations, getting a criminal lawyer to fight these allegations as soon as possible is essential. Once arrested, avoid talking or telling the investigators anything without the presence of your lawyer. Always remember the information you give can be used to prosecute you later. Drug charges and the subsequent penalties are severe in phoenix.
Cultivation of Marijuana in phoenix is illegal if not done under the guidance of the law. When you cultivate more than 12 plants even when authorized, you will be believed to be growing it for financial gain. Such activity is categorized as the trafficking of illicit drugs. When one is charged with producing drugs, it is a felony offense in Phoenix, Arizona.
However, to be convicted of the crime of cultivating Marijuana, the prosecution must prove various elements to the crime. Some of these include:
- The defendant had no legal authorization to grow cannabis neither did he or she possess a medical card
- The defendant lives within 25 miles to the nearest Marijuana dispensary
- The defendant had in their possession the tools and equipment necessary to grow Marijuana
- The defendant had a prepared place for the growing of weed
- The defendant already had Marijuana plants growing
However, it is essential to know that having the seeds for Marijuana alone without the other various elements is not an indication of intent to cultivate weed. However, if seeds are found and other equipment such as hydroponic tools and lamps for indoor growing, an arrest may be triggered.
Most state and federal laws on the cultivation of Marijuana are similar. The cultivation of cannabis is treated the same way as the manufacturing of drugs found under schedule 1. When a person is found cultivating 50 or fewer plants, they may be convicted to five-year imprisonment. If one is found growing one thousand plants or more, they may face a possible life sentence. Recreational use of Marijuana is prohibited in Arizona, and so this cannot be used as a defense.
Sometimes a person with a medical card or authorization to grow weed can be charged with this offense. Legally, those authorized to produce cannabis should not cultivate more than 12 plants at a time. If you are found growing more, you will be prosecuted for violating the regulations. The state may assume that you are growing intending to sell, yet you are not permitted to do so. It does not matter if you are selling Marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. As long as you are growing more plants than authorized, you can face felony charges.
Sometimes authorized caregivers can be allowed to grow more plants if they can prove that they are taking care of various authorized patients. If you are found cultivating Marijuana without authorization, you will be charged with possession and use of cannabis.
Penalties for Cultivating and Owning Marijuana
When you are found cultivating Marijuana without authorization, you will be charged with its possession, as well. According to the Arizona Legislation Proposition commonly referred to as Arizona Prop 200, sending first-time and second-time drug offenders to jail or prison with no violent crime convictions is prohibited in Arizona. Even when the defendant is convicted on felony charges, the judge is required to sentence them to probation until their third offense. In addition to the probation, a defendant will be sentenced to a mandatory drug treatment program and a possible community service sentence.
However, a defendant that violates the conditions of their probation risks being jailed for two to four weeks. The jail term is in effect until your probation is reinstated, or you are released.
A conviction can also result in a person being sentenced to TASC resolution. TASC is an Adult Deferred Prosecution program that convicts complete within a period of three to six months. On completing this program, the charges against the defendant are dropped.
The program involves taking a urine test randomly once a month, attending a seminar every Saturday for drug and alcohol education that takes three hours and payment of fees between $300 and $700. Getting a TASC sentencing is not easy but requires an experienced lawyer to facilitate it for you. This program is advantageous because, upon completion, the defendant’s record on Marijuana possession or cultivation is dismissed. However, if you had gone through this program before, or were convicted of a drug charge, you do not qualify for the program.
Legal Defenses for Cultivating or Possession of Marijuana
The central aspect of the defense is proving the defendant did not possess Marijuana knowingly, or he/she did not cultivate and possess it. A defense lawyer can argue that whatever was found in the defendant’s house or car was left by someone else, and the defendant was not aware of it.
In challenging possession, the attorney can refute the claims that the officer could smell the drugs leading to the arrest. For a successful defense, it is crucial to suppress any Marijuana evidence brought forth. Without the Marijuana evidence, it becomes impossible to convict one of cultivating weed.
Sometimes the police can coerce or influence a defendant to admit they are cultivating cannabis. Coercion is illegal, and a lawyer can challenge the police's conduct that led to the arrest and how they obtained their evidence. The validity of the search warrant can also be challenged in a court of law. There must be probable cause as to why the police decided to search the defendant.
Finding indoor planting equipment or tools is not sufficient evidence that the defendant was planning to cultivate Marijuana. Your lawyer will be able to argue that the equipment was for growing other plants that are not illegal.
If you are accused of growing more Marijuana plants than authorized, your lawyer can argue that you were in the process of getting rid of the old plants and planting new ones. It is possible to argue that you were planning to uproot the old plants once the new ones had matured and were ready for harvesting.
The defense can also argue that the plants were within the legal limit, and no other plants were planted. The prosecution must produce evidence that the plants were more than those authorized by the state.
The prosecution may suggest that the defendant was cultivating Marijuana for purposes of selling it. This can be argued out by your lawyer challenging the prosecution to produce evidence indicating the said intentions by the defendant. Your lawyer can argue that Marijuana in your possession was purely for medicinal use and not for sale.
Sometimes the police may overlook reading the Miranda rights to the defendant and coerce them to incriminate themselves. If this is the case, your lawyer can challenge the police misconduct and elimination of the evidence or statement the client may have issued. If this is successful, the information gathered by the police from the interrogation may not be used against you.
Find an Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you face allegations for growing or cultivating Marijuana illegally, finding a defense lawyer to prepare your defense is imperative. The penalties, if one is convicted, are severe. However, your lawyer can challenge the evidence produced by the prosecution and get your charges reduced or dropped. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we are experienced in criminal defense and conversant with Marijuana laws. Call us today at 602-551-8092, and let us help you fight against the accusations.