New Marijuana Law
Arizona has long been considered one of the harshest states when it comes to drug crimes prosecution, including prosecution for marijuana-related crimes. However, in 2010, Arizona legalized medical marijuana. In the 2020 election, the state’s voters passed Prop 207, a marijuana bill that decriminalized marijuana. If you were charged with a drug crime before or after the new law went into effect, and you are wondering whether or how the new marijuana law impacts the charges, you should consult experienced Tempe criminal defense attorney James E. Novak. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Novak understands how prosecutors think. He follows changes in drug laws closely to determine how best to defend clients accused of a range of crimes in Tempe and other cities in Maricopa County.2020 Marijuana Law
Under A.R.S. section 36-2852, certain acts related to marijuana that were previously against the law have been decriminalized for those who are at least age 21. When 1 ounce or less of marijuana is involved, the following cannot be the basis for criminal charges, even when the purpose is recreational use:
- Manufacturing by mechanical or manual methods
These acts can’t be the basis for imposing penalties of any kind. They also can’t be grounds for seizure or forfeiture of assets or for imposing penalties.
Under the new law, when six or fewer marijuana plant are processed, cultivated, transported or possessed for personal use at your primary residence, you should not be criminally charged by prosecutors.
Additionally you shouldn’t be charged if you possess, process, or make pot through manual or mechanical methods if: (1) you’re cultivating within an enclosed area such as a closet or room with a lock that stops kids from gaining access, (2) you don’t produce more than 12 plants at a single residence where at least two people who are at least 21 years old live at the same time, and (3) you cultivate in an area where the pot plants aren’t able to be seen by the public without optical aids, such as binoculars.
Among other things, the new law also provides that if you aren’t paid and you are not advertising or promoting the transfer, you shouldn’t be charged for transferring one ounce or less of marijuana to someone at who is at least age 21, so long as that no more than 5 grams are in the form of marijuana concentrate. You shouldn’t be charged for transferring a maximum of six pot plants to somebody at least age 21, if you’re not being paid and the transfer isn’t promoted or advertised. Similarly, you shouldn’t be charged in connection with paraphernalia related to making or cultivating or consuming pot.Metabolites Found in Your Body
Although the effect of marijuana can fade within hours of smoking it, THC is broken down quickly by a body and changed into molecules called metabolites. Numerous different metabolites remain in the body after you smoke pot. These metabolites may be detected in hour body for many days after you smoked, vaped, or ate edibles. If you are pulled over and a test reveals you have metabolites of marijuana in your body, you can only be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana under section 28-1381(A)(3) when you were also impaired to the slightest degree.Reasonable Suspicion of Criminal Activity
Importantly, the new law provides that the simple smell of marijuana or burnt marijuana cannot, on its own, constitute reasonable suspicion of a crime. For instance, if an officer walks past your Tempe house and smells pot, this by itself should not form a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime.
However, this provision of the new law won’t apply to an officer’s investigation for DUI with drugs under section 28-1381(A)(3). For instance, if you are smoking pot with the windows down and weaving, and an officer pulls his car alongside you and smells marijuana burning the officer can cite the odor when explaining his reasonable suspicion for pulling you over for driving under the influence of marijuana.Hire an Experienced Marijuana Defense Attorney in Arizona
If you’ve been charged with a marijuana-related crime and believe the new marijuana law decriminalizing certain activities may apply to your situation, it is crucial to hire a tough, aggressive defense attorney. The seasoned Tempe criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak represents those charged with drug crimes in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.