The Legal Ramifications of Hemp and Cannabis in Arizona

Arizona criminal defenseLast year, Arizona legalized hemp growth, which is regulated by the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Due to its close relationship to marijuana, legal implications regarding cultivation, possession, and distribution of hemp apply. Most importantly, hemp can’t contain any more than 0.3 percent of THC, the intoxicating ingredient found in cannabis.

Hemp is considered an economic “goldmine” for Arizona, as described by one business person who plans to grow the crop. Another Arizona farmer has raised concerns over the THC levels of hemp rising when temperatures reach triple digits. If THC levels surpass 0.3 percent, a hemp plant can be deemed illegal to grow without a medical marijuana license.

Understanding the ramifications

With the emergence of the hemp industry, it’s important that those who plan to cultivate or possess any products related to cannabis understand the legal threshold. Legalizing the production of hemp is not the same as legalizing cannabis for personal use.

Penalties for marijuana possession in Arizona are among the nation’s strictest. If you don’t have a doctor-issued medical marijuana ID card, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble. Even with a medical marijuana ID card, you can’t possess more than 2.5 ounces within a two-week period.

Under state penal code 13-3405, if you are in possession of less than two pounds of pot:

  • For personal use: You could be charged with a class 6 felony – which is punishable by up to two years in prison.
  • With intent to sell: You could be charged with a class 4 felony – which is punishable by up to three years and nine months in prison.
  • With intent to produce: You could be charged with a class 5 felony – which is punishable by up to two and a half years in prison.
  • With intent to transport, import, or export: You could be charged with a class 3 felony – which is punishable by up to eight years and nine months in prison.

Having more marijuana in your possession can increase your penalty up to a class 2 felony – which carries a five-year prison sentence.

If you find yourself in legal trouble, you need an attorney on your side

Sometimes laws aren’t conveyed clearly enough. Marijuana possession may be legal in neighboring states, such as Colorado and California, and changes in Arizona laws may give some residents the wrong impression.

Additionally, an out-of-state visitor from a state with legalized recreational marijuana may not be aware of the laws and penalties in Arizona and may enter the state with cannabis in their possession.

If you happen to find yourself in legal trouble due to marijuana possession, you need to take immediate action. If police ask you any questions, respectfully practice your right to remain silent and state that you want a lawyer.

Mesa criminal defense attorney Charlie Naegle of Brown, Naegle, Crider & Jensen has the experience and a wealth of knowledge handling drug possession cases. He’ll explore all legal options available to you and work tirelessly to devise a favorable defense.

Don’t wait. Contact us today to learn more.

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