AP Photo/Matthew Brown
AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Your guide to recreational marijuana in Arizona — for both aspiring and experienced stoners alike.

Arizonans overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana and weed officially became legal for recreational use last year for anyone over the age of 21. But legalization came with lots of questions about buying, using, and everything else from the curious to the concerned and those who just want to know where they can get high. 

Here are the answers to commonly asked questions: 

Is marijuana legal?

Yes, recreational marijuana officially became legal on Nov. 29 when the voter-approved Prop 207 was certified by state officials. With that, anyone 21 and over can use marijuana or possess up to an ounce for any purpose. 

So, I can buy it, right? 

Not just yet. The Arizona Department of Health Services is still in the process of approving dispensaries to transition from just selling medical marijuana to also recreational, and consumers still can’t buy medicinal without a medical marijuana card. Until then, there’s technically no legal way to buy pot. 

When can I buy it then? 

Retail sales likely won’t start until the spring — most likely March at the earliest. 

How will I be able to buy it? 

Buying weed from a dispensary will be pretty similar to buying beer from a liquor store. Simply go to the store, show your ID, and pick what you want. Just remember most dispensaries only take cash. 

How much can I buy?

Recreational users can buy up to an ounce at a time. 

What will they sell?

Marijuana comes in a bunch of different varieties ranging from weed in loose form to different edibles, concentrates, and even a good old-fashioned joint.

How do I know what to buy?

Stepping into a recreational dispensary can be confusing to the uninitiated. Most shops have a menu of some sort that shows all the different offerings. You can also just ask the person behind the counter as they’re often trained to answer questions and guide the customer. Different types of marijuana will affect people differently and they can help you determine which will give you the right high. 

Can I smoke at the store? 

Don’t even think about it! Smoking indoors is prohibited under Arizona’s Smoke-Free Arizona law and doing so — even in a dispensary — can result in the shop facing a steep fine or even losing its license. You can eat an edible there, though. 

Where can I smoke then?

Prop 207 says weed can’t be smoked in public and numerous cities have since approved additional restrictions on where weed can and can’t be consumed.  The only place it’s really safe to smoke weed is on your own private property, including your home and backyard. Smoking at a friend’s house is fine too as long as they give you permission. 

Remember that the Smoke-Free Arizona law that applies to cigarettes and vaping also applies to smoking marijuana, which includes places like hotel rooms, bars, and other places where smoking isn’t allowed.

So I can smoke in my car? 

No, that’s technically a public place. A police officer would also have probable cause to suspect you of driving under the influence if the inside of the car smells like burnt weed. 

My apartment?

That one depends on your lease. Apartments and rented houses are private property, but the landlord has the final authority on whether marijuana can be smoked in or on the property.

If the lease says marijuana usage isn’t allowed, the landlord does have the legal right to evict the tenant if they violate the lease even though weed is legal. 

A national park?

Not there either. Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug at the federal level regardless of how it’s consumed. As a result, lighting up, using a vape, or eating an edible at a national park or on any other federal land could be punishable by six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

A park?

Again, that’s considered to be a public space, so no. Using marijuana in public can result in a fine and citation.

Can I mail it?

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Mailing it via the US Postal Service, UPS, or whoever is a federal crime that could lead to federal charges. 

Can I take it on vacation?

Nope. Taking marijuana across state lines is a crime as it violates federal interstate transit laws. This is the case even if you try to take it to another state where weed is legal, such as California, Arizona, and Nevada. 

Can I smoke and drive?

No. Proposition 207 says that using or consuming marijuana is illegal while driving, flying, or boating. And, Any amount of marijuana in one’s system could be considered too much to drive as the state has yet to define a set legal limit. 

Can I drive with it in my car?

Yes. It’s legal for anyone 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of unconsumed marijuana in the car just like someone would drive with an unopened bottle of booze. 

Can I just grow my own at home?

Prop 207 allows an adult to grow up to six plants per person with no more than 12 per household. Some cities do have additional rules about where the plants can be located. 

How do I buy a plant?

This goes back to the “no weed in the mail” thing. You’ll have to opt for an in-state vendor as buying seed or a plant online would violate federal laws. Lots of local stores are already offering growing supplies to get you started.

Can smoking weed affect my employment?

Simply going to a dispensary won’t, but lighting up could put your job in jeopardy. 

Arizona is an at-will employment state, meaning employers are free to hire or fire employees for pretty much any reason, so long as it’s legal, including for using drugs or alcohol.

The only exception is if you have a medical marijuana card, which comes with its own set of legal protections.

Does medicinal matter now that weed is legal?

Yes, medicinal cardholders can purchase larger quantities and products with different potency levels. 

Is smoking weed bad for my lungs?

According to the American Lung Association, inhaling smoke of any kind can damage the lungs. 

How much edible should I eat the first time?
Everyone reacts differently to cannabis. The experts over at High Times advise playing it safe the first time. First-time users should opt for about 10 mg of THC — the psychoactive compound in marijuana — in an edible.  Start with a really small dose and then give it some time to kick in. Dispensary workers can also provide you some guidance on selecting the right goods for your first time. 

Edibles can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours to kick in, so don’t immediately consume more because you’re not seeing effects right away. Try consuming the edible in a safe and familiar space with people you trust. Remember to stay hydrated, too! 

Got any other questions about weed? Email bree@couriernewsroom.com to get answers.