Arizona Dispensary Laws

Are you familiar with the Arizona dispensary laws? Arizona medical dispensaries have been open to patients since 2010, and recreational dispensaries are open to the general public as of this year—all thanks to the Smart and Safe Act (Proposition 207) ballot initiative. But if you’re thinking of stepping into one of these canna-businesses, you’ll first need to acquaint yourself with the general rules and regulations.


Can You Go Into an Arizona Dispensary Without a Medical Card?

You no longer need a medical marijuana card to enter a licensed dispensary in Arizona. Under the Smart and Safe Act, cannabis sales are open to all adults ages 21 and over. Recreational customers will need to present a photo ID when visiting the dispensary, and medical marijuana patients will need to present their medical card in order to access the patient-specific benefits and privileges.


Note that your ID will be scanned or otherwise recorded whenever you make a purchase. This is both a medicinal and recreational marijuana law, and it’s designed to ensure that you remain within your legal purchase limits and that the dispensary accurately tracks all of its cannabis sales.


Can Medical Marijuana & Recreational Cannabis Be Sold in the Same Dispensary?

Cannabis dispensaries are open to both medicinal and recreational sales. However, these businesses may reserve the right to limit their inventory to medicinal patients, so you should always check before visiting.

Some medical marijuana dispensaries, like many in the Greater Phoenix area, will have separate lines for recreational customers and patients. Some will also offer special medical-only deals and products. So if you qualify for a medical marijuana card and you still haven’t gotten certified, it’s still very much to your advantage to become a medical patient.


What Is Required for the Medical Marijuana Application Process?

Arizona’s medical marijuana program is open to all patients with a qualifying medical condition. Qualifying conditions include glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Crohn’s, advanced Alzheimer’s disease, persistent muscle spasms, chronic pain, PTSD, and severe nausea. Qualifying patients under 18 will need to have a guardian register as a caregiver on their behalf.


If you’d like to become a medical marijuana patient, the first step is to acquire a physician’s recommendation. You can access some of the best medical marijuana doctors in AZ through Arizona Green Leaf. We’ll sit with you, explain your options, review your medical records, and handle all of the paperwork for you. All you need is your valid state ID with a current Arizona residential address along with any available medical records.


Once you have your recommendation, you’ll need to apply for your card through the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). The patient application fee is $150, and the card is good for 2 years.


How Much Marijuana Can You Purchase From an Arizona Dispensary?

Recreational users can purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time, or up to 5 grams of cannabis extract. Medical cannabis patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in any form (including extracts) in any 2-week period.


Note that the purchase limit also reflects the possession limit. So a recreational customer should be in possession of no more than an ounce at any given time.


Can You Grow Cannabis Plants Outside the Dispensary?

Under Arizona law, all adults over 21 years of age may grow up to 6 marijuana plants. In houses with more than 2 adults, a total of 12 plants may be grown within the household.


Card-carrying medicinal patients are permitted to grow up to 12 plants if they live more than 25 miles away from the nearest dispensary.


All cannabis plants must be stored in an enclosed, locked container, which may be a room, closet, greenhouse, or other contained area equipped with locks and security systems.


Can Dispensaries Offer Marijuana Delivery to Cannabis Customers?

At this time, delivery services are available exclusively to medical marijuana patients. While the state has suggested that it may consider allowing recreational delivery in the future, dispensaries and independent delivery services are currently not allowed to transport cannabis to non-medical customers.


Even without delivery, there are ways that you can expedite your purchase. For example, many dispensaries will allow you to order your product online and then pick it up in a special express line at the facility.


Do Medical Marijuana Patients Have to Pay Arizona’s Excise Tax?

Medical marijuana patients do not have to pay the 15.8% excise tax imposed on recreational customers. An excise tax, sometimes referred to as a “sin tax” or “luxury tax,” is imposed on recreational marijuana customers in most adult-use states and is intended to fund initiatives like health and education.


Because medical marijuana users have a medicinal need for cannabis, most states don’t require them to pay this extra tax. In Arizona, medical marijuana patients are only required to pay the local sales tax rate, which averages about 8% depending on the location. Recreational customers have to pay this local tax in addition to the excise tax.


What Types of Marijuana Products Can Arizona Dispensaries Sell?

Arizona dispensaries are permitted to sell all popular types of cannabis products including flower, pre-rolls, concentrates and extracts (like hashish as well as wax, shatter, and other assorted dabs), edibles, cannabis-infused beverages, topicals, immature plants, seeds, and paraphernalia.


Hemp-derived CBD products, as well as certain types of paraphernalia (like pipes and vaporizers) may be sold in other types of establishments as well as dispensaries. Cannabis-derived consumables, though, must be bought and sold exclusively in licensed dispensaries.


Can You Use an Out-of-State Medical Card in an Arizona Dispensary?

At this time, you cannot use an out-of-state medical card in Arizona dispensaries. The ADHS does allow the same protections to out-of-state cardholders as it does to in-state patients, but medical dispensary access is off limits.


This means that if you’re caught with 2 ounces of cannabis (which is okay for patients but not recreational customers) and you present an out-of-state medical card to law enforcement, you should be okay. In the eyes of the law, you’re still a patient and subject to the same possession limits as other registered patients.


Just note that if you do want to smoke when visiting Arizona, you’ll need to purchase from a recreational dispensary in the state. Do not try to bring your own cannabis across state lines, as this constitutes a federal drug trafficking crime.


Do Arizona Dispensaries Keep Track of How Much I Buy?

Whenever you legally purchase cannabis in Arizona or any other state, the transaction is recorded into the state’s track-and-trace system.


The purpose of this system is not to infringe on your privacy or keep a long-term record of your smoking habits; the purpose is to ensure that dispensaries are transacting business in accordance with the law. In other words, the ADHS knows how much cannabis is being sold to each customer/patient, where the cannabis came from, and how the unused cannabis is ultimately disposed of.


So if you visit multiple dispensaries in the same day to circumvent your purchase limits, there will be a record of your purchase history. As a result, you may be unable to make subsequent purchases above your limit.


Other Arizona Dispensary Laws

There are a few other Arizona dispensary laws that it may benefit you to know.


For instance, did you know that medical dispensaries are required to provide educational materials for patients and caregivers? So if you’re unsure about what to purchase or how best to consume your medication, all you have to do is ask.


Also, you don’t have to be a resident of Arizona to shop in Arizona’s adult-use dispensaries. You just need to be 21 years of age or older with a valid ID—which may be a driver’s license, state-ID, or passport.


You’re free to possess (but not use) cannabis in most places throughout the state once you’ve left the dispensary. The exception is that you can’t possess it on federal land like national parks and forests. Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.


Arizona is fast becoming one of the most cannabis-friendly states in the nation. As long as you follow the laws and are mindful of what you buy and where you consume it, you can enjoy some of the nation’s best bud with greater freedom than ever before.


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