News and Insights

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By John A. Conley, Esq. and Chelsea L. Gulinson, Esq. Milligan Lawless, P.C

Just coming out of a lazy daze? Arizona voters recently puff-puff-passed Proposition 207, the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana for users over age 21.[1]  Individuals are also permitted to grow no more than 6 marijuana plants in their residences, so long as the plants are contained in a lockable area and outside public view.  Marijuana sales will now be taxed at 16% in addition to existing transaction privilege tax and use tax.  Revenue from marijuana sales will be distributed to community college districts, municipal police departments, municipal fire departments, county sheriffs’ departments, the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, the Justice Reinvestment Fund, and the Attorney General.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is directed to adopt rules to regulate marijuana, including licensing of retail stores, cultivation facilities, and production facilities.  Although existing nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries might be first in line to hold for-profit marijuana licenses, Prop 107 established the Social Equity Ownership Program, which will issue licenses to entities whose owners are from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by previous marijuana laws.  Jack pot!

In the interests of “efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenue for public purposes, and individual freedom,”[2] Arizona is now one of 15 states that gives flower to the people.  Talk about blazing a trail!  But, don’t get lost in the weeds.  You can still take a hit for selling, transferring, or providing marijuana to individuals under age 21.  And, it’s still illegal to drive, fly, or boat while impaired.

Further, while the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act prohibits employers from discriminating against medical marijuana card holders, Prop 207 does not include the same protections for users of recreational marijuana: employers may still enjoy their rights to maintain drug-and-alcohol-free places of employment through workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by current and prospective employees.  Employers can require current and prospective employees to submit to drug tests based on written testing policies.[3]  And, employers may take adverse employment actions based on a positive drug test, including suspension, termination, or refusal to hire a prospective employee.  Because marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law, federal drug free workplace rules still apply to use of recreational marijuana.[4]

Beginning July 12, 2021, an individual who was arrested for, charged with, or convicted for marijuana-related crimes can pipe up and petition the courts to expunge their record.  And, Maricopa prosecutors plan to dismiss all pending and unfiled charges of possession of marijuana, and any associated paraphernalia charges.[5]

Prop 207 will take effect on or before April 5, 2021.

For more information, contact Milligan Lawless at 602-792-3500.


[1] https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Proposition_207,_Marijuana_Legalization_Initiative_(2020).

[2] https://apps.arizona.vote/info/assets/18/0/BallotMeasures/I-23-2020.pdf.

[3] See A.R.S. §§ 23-492 et seq.

[4] See 21 U.S.C. § 812; https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/legal/federal-laws/contractors-grantees.

[5] https://www.azfamily.com/news/maricopa-county-attorney-will-dismiss-all-pending-marijuana-possession-charges/article_ef49d3d0-22e5-11eb-bf64-33118634d85f.html.