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Good news!

As of November 3rd, 2020, Arizona officially became the 13th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA), this exciting law was passed with roughly 60% of voters in favor of this act.

Cue the celebrations, right?

Not so fast.

While this is indeed news to get excited about, there are a number of changes that Arizonians can expect and they may not be able to purchase any recreational cannabis for months to come. Let’s look a little bit deeper at this new law with several key takeaways to get you up to speed with all of the new legislation.

Key Takeaways From The SSAA

  • Patience is going to be your best friend throughout this process. Arizona lawmakers will have to establish regulations for the new Arizona recreational marijuana industry by the deadline of April 5, 2021.
  • Under the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, adults 21 and older would be able to possess 1 ounce of cannabis with no more than 5 grams of it being marijuana concentrates (extracts, shatter, wax, etc.).
  • Dispensaries will not be able to legally sell recreational marijuana until they get licensed, which should be sometime around March 2021. Sorry folks.
  • If you want some recreational green delivered to your front door, you’re going to have to wait a while for that too. On or after Jan 1, 2023, the ADHS can adopt rules to permit recreational marijuana deliveries.
  • If you’re looking to purchase recreational cannabis before new dispensaries are allowed to open, you may be able to find some at your local medical dispensary. On or before April 5, 2021, medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to sell recreational marijuana to adults until the ADHS issues licenses for recreational dispensaries.
  • “Qualified early applicants” (qualifications are currently undetermined at the time of this article) can apply for a recreational dispensary license (approximately 145 licenses will be available) with the ADHS. Any remaining or additional licenses will be provided by random selection or lottery.
  • While home cultivation will be made legal, it will be limited to six plants at an individual’s primary residence and 12 plants at a residence where two or more individuals who are at least 21 years old reside at one time.
  • A 16% excise tax (the same as cigarettes and alcohol) will be placed on recreational marijuana products. Money from the excise tax will fund various state agencies and be dispersed between community college districts, police and fire departments, and the Highway User fund.
  • Cannabis use will remain illegal in public places like restaurants, parks, and sidewalks. If found disobeying this law, offenders are guilty of a petty offense — so be responsible and keep your cannabis at home.
  • Possessing more than one ounce but less than 2.5 ounces would be a petty offense. Minors caught with less than one ounce would receive up to a $100 fine and four hours of drug counseling for a first offense. A second offense would be up to a $100 fine and eight hours of drug counseling. A third offense would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Cannabis-infused edibles will be limited to a maximum of 10mg of THC per edible and limited to a maximum of 100mg of THC per package of edibles. If you want something more potent, you’ll have to whip it up yourself in your own kitchen!
  • Like many other legal states, no cannabis products can be sold that imitate brands marketed to children or look like humans, animals, insects, fruits, toys, or cartoons.
  • In order to keep this industry safe, cannabis testing facilities will test marijuana for harmful contaminants (i.e., pesticides, molds, chemical contaminants, etc.) before introducing them to dispensary shelves.
  • There’s some good news for those that have been unfairly prosecuted for cannabis possession as well. Beginning on July 12, 2021, people convicted previously of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana or six or fewer plants or paraphernalia can petition to have the record expunged.
  • Driving, flying, or boating impaired to even the slightest degree by marijuana will still remain illegal and follow a zero-tolerance policy.
  • Employers have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace, so be sure to check-in with your job before sparking up.

Final Thoughts

While it is thrilling for the cannabis industry to add Arizona to its list of recreationally legal states, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Continue to remain patient, positive, and responsible until the dust settles on the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

In the meantime, you’re always welcome to fulfill all your medical needs at one of our Arizona Jars locations — and keep your eyes peeled here for all the recreational updates.

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