Recently, California has passed yet another law to further legalize marijuana possession. A possessor must have a marijuana medical card, and buy from a legally authorized dispensary. Possession without a medical card has been reduced to a civil offense, the same as a traffic ticket. While this has made many California residents happy, just across the border the laws in Arizona are still quite strict. Herein, I will describe what these laws mean to those who are visiting or moving from California to Arizona.
If you are from Arizona, you know that marijuana is effectively legalized in certain parts of the state. Medical marijuana cards can be had for a quick sixty dollar visit to a local doctor, and then a stop in to a dispensary, such as one in Oakland. At this point, the user can smoke marijuana free and clear, with no concern for criminal penalties. Without the card, the person could be ticketed for a civil offense, the same as speeding or a trespassing claim. This is deal for some citizens of California, but they should be aware of what this can means should they cross the border.
In Arizona, a quick trip down the I-8, the laws regarding marijuana possession are severe. Simply possessing a small amount for personal use can result in six months to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Should a person it packaged in a manner the state decides is designed for distribution, the penalties will skyrocket. Delivery or sales of marijuana results in an instant penalty of two and a half years in jail. So think twice before you bring that joint to your friend’s house!
Overall, residents of California should always remember when they leave the state that they could be subject to vastly different laws across the border. We think of the United States of America as one large conglomerate, however in reality we are a union of states each with its’ own legislative body. This results in something of a patchwork of laws which can be confusing and potentially damaging to visitors.
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, contact an Arizona criminal defense lawyer today. An Arizona criminal defense attorney will defend you in court, and can negotiate with the prosecution to lower the charge or at least the sentencing which is levied against you. If you are planning a trip to Arizona from California, ensure that you look up the laws for any goods which could be considered illegal where you are visiting.