Arizona Sale of a Controlled Substance Laws

Learn about the penalties for selling drugs in Arizona.

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All states regulate and control the sale of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for sale. Arizona considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the sale of CDS only. The possession of CDS for personal use carries different penalties. For more information on possession of CDS for personal use, see Possession of Controlled Substances in Arizona.

How Arizona Classifies the Sale of Controlled Dangerous Substances

Arizona divides CDS that is involved in illegal sales into seven groups, based on the type of substance the defendant possessed for sale. The groups are:

  • peyote
  • substances that emits toxic vapors
  • marijuana
  • prescription only drugs
  • dangerous drugs
  • narcotic drugs, and
  • chemicals used in the production of CDS.

If you’ve been arrested for sale of CDS, in order to know what charges you may be facing, you’ll need to consult the Arizona Codes that list precisely which drugs, and in what amounts, fit into each group. Those statutes are Arizona Code Sections 13.3401-13.3422.

Classification of Possession of CDS Crimes

All unlawful sales or transfers of CDS crimes are felonies. There are six classes of felonies. CDS sale or distribution crimes constitute Classes 2 through 6. Class 2 felonies are the most serious.

Sale or distribution of peyote

The sale or distribution of peyote is a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by four months to two years in prison. Felony fines are determined by the court and can be assessed at up to $150,000. However, a defendant can defeat a charge of possession if he can prove the peyote was used for religious reasons during the course of a religious exercise and did not pose a threat to the community.

Sale or transfer of substances that emit toxic vapors

It is illegal to sell or transfer any substance that contains or emits toxic vapors (such as glues, aerosol sprays, and isopropyl alcohol) when:

  • the sale, offer to sell, or transfer of the substance is to a person under the age of 18; or
  • when the person who sells, tries to sell, or transfers the substance is not an employee of a licensed company which, in the ordinary course of business, customarily sells the substance from a fixed location.

The unlawful sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer a substance that emits toxic vapors is a Class 5 felony, but may be reduced to a Class 1 misdemeanor by the court. A Class 5 felony is punishable by six months to two and a half years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000. If the conviction is sentenced as a Class 1 misdemeanor the court can impose a six-month jail term and a fine of up to $2,500.

Sale or transfer of marijuana

The sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer marijuana is penalized in accordance with the amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession:

  • Possession of less than two pounds is a Class 4 felony.
  • Possession of more than two pounds but less than four pounds is a Class 3 felony.
  • Possession of more than four pounds is a Class 2 felony.

Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony is punishable by one to 3 ¾ years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Class 3 felony. A Class 3 felony is punishable by two to 8.75 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to 12.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

To learn more, see Arizona Marijuana Laws.

Sale or transfer of prescription-only drugs

The sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer a prescription-only drug without a license is a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by four months in jail to two years in prison. This crime carries an additional penalty of a $1,000 fine and 240 hours of community service.

Sale or transfer of dangerous drugs

The unlawful sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer a substance classified as a “dangerous” drug (such as hallucinogenics, stimulants, depressants, and anabolic steroids), is a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to 12.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Sale or transfer of narcotic drugs

The unlawful sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer narcotics is a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to 12.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Sale or transfer of regulated chemicals used in the production of CDS

The unlawful sale, transfer, possession for sale or transfer, or offer to sell or transfer regulated chemicals with the knowledge that the intended use of the chemicals are to produce illegal narcotics or dangerous drugs, is a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to 12.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Sale or Transfer of CDS in a School Zone

The unlawful sale or transfer of any CDS in a drug free school zone is punished more harshly than sale in a non-school environment:

  • A conviction for the sale or transfer of CDS in a drug free school zone is punishable by the same class of felony the defendant has been convicted of, except that an additional one-year of incarceration is added to the sentence.
  • The court will impose a fine of either $2,000 or 3 times the value of the CDS, whichever is greater, for the sale or transfer of unlawful CDS in a drug free school zone.

Repeat Or Habitual Offenders

Like every state, Arizona imposes harsher penalties on defendants with multiple prior felony convictions. To determine subsequent penalties, Arizona divides repeat offenders into 3 categories depending on the type of prior felony conviction. In order to determine which category you may belong to, you will need to review Arizona Code Section 13-703.  

Category 1 repetitive offender:

  • A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to 12.5 years.
  • A Class 3 felony is punishable by 1.8 to 8.75 years.
  • A Class 4 felony is punishable by 1.1 to 3.75 years.
  • A Class 5 felony is punishable by six months to 2.5 years.
  • A Class 6 felony is punishable by .3 to 1.8 years.

Category 2 repetitive offender:

  • A Class 2 felony is punishable by 4.5 to 23.1 years.
  • A Class 3 felony is punishable by 3.3 to 16.5 years.
  • A Class 4 felony is punishable by 2.25 to 7.5 years.
  • A Class 5 felony is punishable by one to 3.75 years.
  • A Class 6 felony is punishable by .75 to 2.75 years.

Category 3 repetitive offender.

  • A Class 2 felony is punishable by 10.5 to 35 years.
  • A Class 3 felony is punishable by 7.5 to 25 years.
  • A Class 4 felony is punishable by six to 15 years.
  • A Class 5 felony is punishable by three to 7.5 years.
  • A Class 6 felony is punishable by 2.25 to 5.75 years.

Talk To An Attorney

If you are charged with selling or attempting to sell CDS, you’re facing significant consequences if you plead guilty or are found guilty by a judge or jury. Notably, the sale of CDS convictions carry heavier penalties than possession convictions. It is important that you seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you and help you understand your options and the possible outcome of each.

by: , Contributing Author

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