Even though marijuana is one of the most commonly used substances throughout Arizona and it has been decriminalized for medical purposes, it can still result in serious criminal penalties. Possession, trafficking or cultivation of marijuana (also commonly known as pot, weed, bud, chronic, ganja and hydro) can result in jail or prison sentences, fines or surcharges, a denial from certain educational or job opportunities, and a criminal record.
If you have been charged with a marijuana crime in Mesa, it is important to remember that you will not necessarily be convicted of the offense. The prosecution is required to prove you committed every element of the marijuana offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard to meet. Any doubt in the mind of the jury or judge can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. Therefore, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Mesa to help you create your best legal defense.
Mesa Marijuana Crimes Lawyer
If you have been charged with a marijuana crime in Mesa, or any of the surrounding areas in Arizona, including Phoenix, Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale or East Valley, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak. Attorney James Novak is knowledgeable in all areas of Arizona’s marijuana laws and will make every effort to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your particular situation. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak for a free consultation at (480) 413-1499 about your alleged marijuana offense.
Arizona Marijuana Offenses Information Center
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Marijuana Defined under Arizona Law
According to ARS § 36-2501 marijuana, cannabis or marihuana is defined as:
- All parts of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not,
- Seeds from the cannabis plant,
- Resin extracted from any part of the cannabis plant,
- Any compound of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin,
- Any manufacture of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin,
- Any salt from the Cannabis plant or its seeds or resin,
- Any derivative of the Cannabis plant or its seeds or resin,
- Any mixture of the Cannabis plant or its seeds or resin, and/or
- Any preparation of the Cannabis plant or its seeds or resin.
Cannabis or marijuana does not include the mature stalks of the cannabis plant, fiber produced from the stalks of the cannabis plant, resin from the cannabis stalks, any oil or cake made from the seeds, or any compound, preparation or mixture from the mature stalks or sterilized seeds incapable of germination of the cannabis plant.
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Mesa Marijuana Offenses
Chapter 34 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes defines criminal offenses and penalties associated with marijuana use. A few of the most commonly charged marijuana crimes in Mesa are listed below.
- Possession of Marijuana – ARS § 13-3405(A)(1) – An individual can be charged with this offense if they knowingly possess or use marijuana. A conviction for this offense is punishable as a class 4, 5 or 6 felony.
- Sale of Marijuana – ARS § 13-3405(A)(2) – An individual can be charged with this offense they knowingly possess marijuana for sale. A conviction for this offense is punishable as a class 2, 3 or 4 felony.
- Marijuana Cultivation – ARS § 13-3405(A)(3) – An individual can be charged with this offense if they knowingly produce marijuana. A conviction for this offense is punishable as a class 3, 4 or 5 felony.
- Marijuana Trafficking – ARS § 13-3405(A)(4) – An individual can be charged with this offense if they knowingly transport for sale, import into Arizona or offer to transport for sale or import in to Arizona, sell, transfer or offer to sell or transfer marijuana. A conviction for this offense is punishable as a class 2 or 3 felony.
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Penalties for Marijuana Crimes in Mesa
According to Chapter 7 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, marijuana offenses in Mesa are assigned a certain sentencing range, from a minimum term of imprisonment to a maximum term. First time offenders are generally given a presumptive sentence. However, the presumptive sentence and penalties can increase or decrease, depending on a variety of factors, such as:
- Whether the offense was aggravated;
- Whether the offense was mitigated;
- Whether the offense involved a child under the age of 18;
- The quantity of the marijuana;
- Whether the offense was dangerous or non-dangerous; and
- Whether the alleged offender has any prior convictions.
The statutory provided penalties for misdemeanor and non-dangerous felony marijuana offenses for a first-time offender in Arizona are as follows:
- A class 1 misdemeanor marijuana conviction can result in up to six months in jail, up to three years on probation and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
- A class 6 felony marijuana conviction can result in prison term ranging from six months to 18 months. The presumptive term for a first time offender is one year.
- A class 5 felony marijuana conviction can result in a prison term ranging from nine months to two years. The presumptive term for a first time is 1.5 years.
- A class 4 felony marijuana conviction can result in a prison term ranging from 18 months to three years. The presumptive term for a first time offender is 2.5 years.
- A class 3 felony marijuana conviction can result in 30 months to seven years in prison. The presumptive term for a first time offender is 3.5 years.
- A class 2 felony marijuana conviction can result in a prison term from four years to ten years. The presumptive term for a first time offender is five years.
Additionally, anyone who has been convicted of a marijuana offense is required to pay a fine of at least $750, or three times the value of the marijuana involved in the offense, but not more than $150,000. An individual charged with felony marijuana offenses is also required to submit to drug testing during the term of probation if they are released on probation. Marijuana offenders may also be required to complete community restitution or community service hours.
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Arizona Medical Marijuana Act
According to ARS Chapter 28.1 of Title 36, the Arizona legislature decriminalized the use and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and up to 12 plants for certain individuals who qualify for medical marijuana. Although Arizona legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2010, the sale of marijuana in Arizona has not been legalized. Read more about Arizona medical marijuana.
Individuals who qualify for medical marijuana in Arizona can include adult patients and patients under the age of 18 who have a designated caregiver, that have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical conviction, and have written certification from their physician. Qualifying individuals are also required to submit an application with the Arizona Department of Health Services before they can receive a registry identification card.
Debilitating diseases in Arizona can include, but are not limited to:
- Hepatitis C,
- Crohn’s disease,
- Alzheimer’s disease,
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV),
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
- Any disease or treatment for disease that causes wasting syndrome,
- Any disease or treatment for disease that causes severe and chronic pain,
- Any disease or treatment for disease that causes severe nausea,
- Any disease or treatment for disease that causes seizures, and
- Any disease or treatment for disease that causes severe and persistent muscle spasms.
The use and possession of medical marijuana is legal in Arizona for qualifying patients; however, medical marijuana patients are still prohibited from:
- Performing tasks under the influence of marijuana that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice;
- Smoking marijuana in public or on public transportation; and
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
Although medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, federal bill HR 2306 has been proposed to end the federal government’s regulation of marijuana and give each state the option to decriminalize marijuana, legalize medicinal marijuana or continue to prohibit the use of marijuana.
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Tempe Marijuana Cultivation
Marijuana cultivation is permissible in Arizona for individuals who are qualifying patients and designated caregivers under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
In order to cultivate marijuana, the qualifying patient or caregiver is required to live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary. They cannot grow more than 12 plants, and are required to grow the marijuana in a closed, locked place. An example of a location where marijuana can be grown can include a greenhouse.
Additionally, dispensaries in Arizona are permitted to cultivate marijuana, but they must do so in a closed, locked area.
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Drug Court in Maricopa County
Maricopa County has created a Drug Court program for certain individuals who have been charged with nonviolent marijuana offenses, instead of be sentenced to traditional penalties, such as incarceration. Individuals in the program are required to attend outpatient counseling, undergo drug monitoring, attend regularly scheduled court hearings, submit to random drug testing, and agree to a contract that outlines all of the conditions to the program.
Individuals in Tempe may be eligible for the drug court program if they:
- Are guilty of marijuana possession or possession of marijuana paraphernalia;
- Have no other criminal charges;
- Did not use a dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense;
- Are not on active supervised probation;
- Have not previously exhibited violent behavior;
- Have a maximum of one other felony conviction; and
- Are not currently taking methadone.
An individual who has successfully completed all terms to the program will have their marijuana charges dismissed. However, an individual may face criminal prosecution to their offense if they violate any of the terms to the program.
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Marijuana Resources in Mesa
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) – NORML is a national organization dedicated to changing the nation’s marijuana laws for the purpose of decriminalizing the use of marijuana by responsible adults.
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona 85287
Phone: (623) 692-4771
Arizona Medical Marijuana Program – The Arizona Department of Health Services was responsible for establishing Arizona’s medical marijuana program under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. This website provides information regarding the medical marijuana program in Arizona, guidelines associated with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, information on how to apply for the program and who is eligible, and answers to frequently asked questions about medical marijuana in Arizona.
Arizona Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) – This national organization aims to remove criminal penalties associated with marijuana use and focuses on making medical marijuana available for individuals who are seriously ill and have approval from their doctors. This link is to the Arizona branch of the MPP.
Arizona Revised Statutes – Chapter 34 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes lists various offenses associated with marijuana use, such as marijuana possession, marijuana trafficking and marijuana cultivation, and the penalties an individual could face if they are convicted of a marijuana crime.
Maricopa County Drug Court – This link is to information on the Maricopa County Drug Court program, including eligible marijuana offenders, requirements of the program, and advantages and benefits of the program.
Office of National Drug Control Policy – The ONDCP is a governmental agency that provides miscellaneous information on marijuana, such as alternative names of the substance, marijuana uses, types and examples of marijuana, and federal marijuana offenses and penalties.
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Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC | Cannabis Offenses Attorney in Tempe
Contact the Law Office of James E. Novak today for a consultation about your alleged marijuana charges throughout Maricopa County in Arizona. James Novak is an experienced Tempe criminal defense attorney who will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to your alleged marijuana crime. Contact the Law Office of James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 for a consultation about your alleged cannabis offense throughout Maricopa County in Arizona.
Contributor: James Novak