The patchwork legal landscape of the marijuana use

In case you have not noticed, the marijuana businesses are blooming in Arizona and other states. Dispensaries can be found in multiple places in cities, and the production in rural areas has spread.  In Arizona, there is an energized community of marijuana businesses who organize a well-attended convention annually.

Since Colorado and Washington State legalized the recreational use of the marihuana in 2012, several states have followed and it has been the launch pad of a new industry after decades of suppressing the consumption and criminalizing sellers and consumers.

The marihuana (cannabis) is not a noxious substance per se. It has medicinal properties. It is used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients and helps HIV sufferers to gain appetite, among many other applications.  However, please note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

Its use presents some challenges: You need to know what are the laws in effect in the jurisdiction you are in.

Some states allow the recreational use of the marihuana, while others permit their medical use. Some states had just stop criminalizing its use.

Click here for a useful map about the different marihuana laws in the USA.

Marijuana medical use is legal in 29 states but remains illegal under federal law. In Arizona, Proposition 203 legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2010 with 50.1% of the vote. Since then, the medical marijuana business has grown to reach an estimated value of $387 million.

The Medical Marijuana Act (A.R.S. 13-3405) authorizes the possession and personal use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients with written certification from a physician to alleviate a variety of symptoms associated with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and Hepatitis C.

Persons who consume marijuana for medical purposes need to get a medical card through a medical certification from a qualified doctor in Arizona.

It is important to note that recreational use of marijuana, possession with intent to sell, possession or sale of more than 28 grams, and non-medical cultivation of marijuana is still a serious crime in Arizona.

This is especially important if the person consuming, selling, transporting or possessing drug paraphernalia is a non-citizen such as an undocumented individual, a legal permanent resident or a DACA recipient, among others, since they may be deported, per federal law.

If you have doubts about these topics, please do not hesitate to call Marcos E. Garciaacosta, Esq. (602) 317-0035 or write an e-mail to

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