When people think about marijuana possession laws and charges, they often believe them to be far less serous than the majority of other criminal charges. Attitudes about marijuana are obviously a little more relaxed than that of cocaine, for instance. But when you are charged with a criminal marijuana offense, you can’t take the situation lightly.

Unlike many other states, Arizona has not decriminalized personal possession of marijuana. This means that in some states you are merely fined for possession. In Arizona, you are criminally charged.

What is “Possession”?

You don’t have to have the pot in your hand to be charged with possession. You don’t even have to have it in your pocket. If you have control of the marijuana, you can be charged. This means the pot could be in your purse, somewhere in your car, or on the sidewalk next to you.

Arizona Marijuana Possession Penalties

The penalty you face for marijuana possession charges depends wholly on the amount of pot you are caught with.

Less than 2 lbs. Misdemeanor/felony 6-18 months
2-4 lbs. Misdemeanor/felony 9 months- 2 years
More than 4lbs. Felony 18 months- 3 years

Fines for marijuana possession range from $750 to $150,000.

The penalties are enhanced if you are caught near a school or a bus.


If this is your first or even second offense, you will be eligible for probation in lieu of jail time. You would be subject to random drug testing and have to participate in treatment but this would save you the headache of spending time behind bars.

Deferred Prosecution

Deferred prosecution is different from simple probation in that a judgment isn’t entered on your case. You serve a similar period under supervision. But, if you complete this period satisfactorily, the charges against you can be dropped and you will move on without the hassle of a criminal record. Typically the option of deferred prosecution is reserved for first time, non-violent offenders with clean criminal records.

Arizona – Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana

In some cases, where evidence points to your intention to sell the marijuana in your possession, you could face charges of “possession for sale”. This could be determined by the presence of baggies, scales, cash, and other such evidence. Again the charge and penalty you face depends on the amount of marijuana you are found to be in possession of.

Less than 2 lbs. Felony 18 months- 3 years
2- 4 lbs. Felony 2 ½- 7 years
More than 4 lbs. Felony 4- 10 years

Ref: ARS §13-3405

If you are facing marijuana charges in Arizona, contact us to speak with with a local Arizona criminal defense lawyer today.