Important Info on Drug Possession Laws in Arizona

Lerner & Rowe Law Group
Tucson drug crime lawyer
If you are facing the charge of possession of any illegal drug, hire a knowledgeable Tucson drug crime lawyer from Lerner & Rowe Law Group.


Arizona has very detailed drug possession laws that list the type and quantity of drugs prohibited and the corresponding penalties involved. Penalties can vary due to several factors, including your previous criminal history and whether you are facing a charge for simple (personal-use) or possession or possession with intent to sell. As a result, a drug possession charge can lead to a permanent criminal record. So, it is vital you have an experienced Tucson drug crime lawyer in your corner. You should not face this alone. 

Classification of Drugs in Arizona

All controlled dangerous substances in Arizona are considered illegal drugs as listed under ARS 13-3401, which covers everything from methamphetamine and other types of amphetamines to hallucinogenic drugs, plus prescription medications and other drugs. Arizona divides illegal drugs into six categories:

  • Dangerous drugs
  • Narcotic drugs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Substances that emit toxic vapors
  • Peyote
  • Lastly, marijuana

The law extensively covers dangerous drugs, narcotics, and marijuana and has “threshold levels” that can transform a simple possession into possession for sale. Furthermore, a presumption that drug sales was your intent makes you vulnerable to a mandatory prison term. Threshold amounts for common unlawful substances include:

  • 1 gram of heroin
  • 9 grams of cocaine
  • 4 grams (solid) or 50 milliliters (liquid) of PCP
  • 9 grams of amphetamine or methamphetamine
  • 2 pounds of marijuana

Drug Possession Penalties

Drug convictions can seriously impact your life and include substantial prison time and fines. However, nonviolent first-time and second-time offenders may not be sentenced to prison time, under Arizona’s Proposition 200. The standard sentence under Prop 200 is probation and a mandatory drug treatment program, such as the Treatment Assessment Screening Center program (a diversion program focusing on rehabilitation instead of incarceration).

Probation is not an option for possession of methamphetamine or violent offenders, no matter the drug involved. If probation is not available, drug possession penalties for dangerous or narcotic drugs and marijuana vary, but a Tucson drug crime lawyer can design a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

Dangerous & Narcotic Drugs Penalties

Dangerous drugs can fall into into several categories, including various types of amphetamines, hallucinogenic substances, drugs that depress the central nervous system, and anabolic steroids. Further, possession of narcotics can include cocaine, heroin, morphine, opium, oxycodone, and many others.

Possession or use of dangerous drugs under ARS 13-3407 or narcotics under ARS 13-3408 is a class 4 felony. However, if you have no previous convictions and the drug was not lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), phencyclidine (PCP), methamphetamine, or another type of amphetamine, a criminal lawyer can argue for a reduction of the charge to a class 1 misdemeanor. If the dangerous or narcotic drug you possess breaches the threshold into possession with intent to sell, your charge will most likely be a class 2 felony.

Recreational Marijuana

Although medical marijuana is legal in Arizona for qualified patients, recreational possession and use of marijuana are still serious crimes. Under ARS 13-3405, possession of marijuana is a felony, but may be reduced to a misdemeanor, barring any prior convictions. Otherwise, felony charges are based on marijuana weight:

  • Possession for personal use weighing:
    • less than two pounds: class 6 felony
    • two to four pounds: class 5 felony
    • four pounds or more: class 4 felony
  • Possession for sale weighing:
    • less than two pounds: class 4 felony
    • two to four pounds: class 3 felony
    • lastly, four pounds or more: class 2 felony

Hire a Top Tucson Drug Crime Lawyer

If you are facing the charge of possession of any illegal drug, hire a knowledgeable Tucson drug crime lawyer from Lerner & Rowe Law Group. We have experience defending all types of Arizona drug cases, from minor possession to serious drug trafficking. Our team can increase your chance for reduced or dismissed charges, or obtaining an alternative sentence. We offer free initial consultations and affordable payment plans. However, we can’t help you if you don’t reach out to us. So, visit our office Monday-Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM, use our online LiveChat, or call us 24/7 at 602-667-7777. Don’t delay any longer. Contact us today!

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.