On November 3, Arizona residents voted by a 60-40 majority to legalize recreational cannabis. That election tally was officially certified on November 30. Fuck yes!
So, as of now, anyone who is 21 or older in Arizona can possess and/or consume up to one ounce of cannabis with no hassles from the law — the problem is that there’s no way to legally purchase it yet. Unless, of course, you purchase from the black market or you have a medical marijuana recommendation and can access a legal mmj dispensary.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Arizona. So if you’ve got a prescription card, you can load up as needed. Everyone else has to suffer through several more months of red bureaucratic tape.
The Arizona Department of Health Services isn’t scheduled to start taking applications for dispensaries until January. From there, observers say March or April will likely be the earliest we can expect recreational pot sales to start.
“Very important that people know there is no method for people to buy legal cannabis anywhere in Arizona today, but it’s coming,” said Demitri Downing, the founder of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association. “Look it’s very complicated right now — this transition from a black market to a tax and regulated market.”
Downing also added, “There’s this weird void of time that will exist where people will be able to hold, possess, and consume, but where did it come from?”
In the meantime, do not try to purchase weed from a medical marijuana patient. As Phoenix attorney Mark Lamber warns, “Someone can’t sell it to you as a recreational user other than a dispensary, which must have their application approved.”
“There will be people on Craigslist or elsewhere trying to sell [non-patients] cannabis today,” Downing concurred, and any of those transactions will be illegal.”
Lamber also pointed out that legal weed is also not an invitation to smoke and drive. “If you’re driving and impaired on marijuana to slightest degree officers will put you through a field sobriety test and could make a determination if you’re impaired.”
Sgt. Kameron Lee of Arizona’s Department of Public Safety backed up that notion. "For us, the process is not changing,” he said. If you’re impaired by marijuana or any drug, you will be arrested for DUI as we always have done.”
Adding to Arizona’s bud boundaries are some official “no fun” zones. You won’t be allowed to get lit in indoor bars or restaurants, or on any federal property. And that last category is considerable in Arizona.
Hang tight, Arizonans. We know you’ve been getting high for a long time! It’ll just be a little longer before you can do it with a true sense of freedom.