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10 Differences Between AZ’s Medical and Recreational Marijuana Laws

Arizona Cannabis

On Nov 3, 2020, Arizona voters passed Prop 207 to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older. On Nov 30, the new law, known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA), was implemented.

Arizonans can now legally possess, grow, and use marijuana (cannabis). Purchasing recreational marijuana will only be legal at state-licensed dispensaries, but they can’t begin selling marijuana until they get licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). This is expected to happen in March 2021 (and at the very latest, April 5, 2021).

Listed below are comparisons between Arizona’s medical marijuana program and recreational program.


There is no age limit for becoming an Arizona medical marijuana patient. However, with recreational marijuana, persons must be at least 21 years of age (just like with alcohol).


Medical marijuana patients can currently purchase up to two and a half ounces every two weeks. Recreational marijuana consumers will be able to buy up to one ounce (with no more than five grams being concentrates/extracts) per transaction at a dispensary.


It is currently unknown what dispensaries will charge for recreational marijuana. The price of medical marijuana will likely remain the same when Arizona dispensaries start selling recreational marijuana. However, in some states that have medical and recreational marijuana programs, the cost for medical marijuana decreased when the state’s recreational marijuana law was implemented. Recreational marijuana prices will likely be steep. Find deals at AZ dispensaries.


Patients buying medical marijuana incur only state and local sales taxes. However, with recreational marijuana, there is a 16% excise tax plus state and local sales taxes.


Demand for recreational marijuana will be very high, so most dispensaries will likely create separate lines for medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers to purchase marijuana.


Medical marijuana patients can possess up to two and a half ounces. Recreational marijuana consumers can possess up to one ounce of marijuana with no more than five grams being concentrates/extracts.

Possession of “more than two and one-half ounces of marijuana, of which not more than twelve and one-half grams is in the form of marijuana concentrate, is guilty of a petty offense,” stated the ADHS.


Medical marijuana patients can grow marijuana under specific rules. Recreational marijuana can be grown by persons 21 or older, but cultivation is regulated to six cannabis plants per individual’s primary residence and twelve plants at a residence where two or more persons 21 or older live.


Medical marijuana patients can purchase marijuana with any potency. Recreational users can purchase marijuana with any potency, except for edibles, which will be limited to 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving and 100 mg per package.


Any type of marijuana use is illegal in public places. But it is only a petty offence for any offenders, and no longer a felony.


Arizona employees have some protections from employer discrimination as a medical marijuana patient. However, with recreational marijuana, employers have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

“Under 207, employers can discriminate however they want,” attorney Tom Dean told AZCentral. But “they cannot fire someone (with a medical card) for a positive test. They can only take action against them if they are impaired at the workplace or are in possession of medical marijuana in the workplace.”


View the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA).


View the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

Being a medical marijuana patient in Arizona will have many benefits such as lower prices, lower taxes, shorter waiting times, and higher purchase and possession limits. See if you qualify for a medical marijuana card.

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