Possession of a Controlled Substance in Arizona

Learn about the penalties for drug possession in Arizona

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

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

How Arizona Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances

Arizona divides its CDS into six groups, based on the type of substance the defendant possessed. The groups are:

  • peyote
  • substances that emits toxic vapors
  • marijuana
  • prescription only drugs
  • dangerous drugs, and
  • narcotic drugs.

If you’ve been arrested for possession 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.

Some CDS, such as codeine, a common painkiller, may be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.

How Arizona Classifies Possession of CDS Crimes

Arizona treats its CDS crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors (which result in less jail time and lower fines than felonies).

  • Felonies are divided among six classes, with the most serious crimes placed in Class 1, then Class 2, and so on. CDS possession crimes fall into either Class 4, Class 5, or Class 6.
  • Misdemeanors are divided among three classes. Possession of certain CDS is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Each of the felony and misdemeanor classes has a punishment range, specifying incarceration and fines. Below, each of the CDS possession offenses is explained and placed in a felony or misdemeanor class, with the punishment range noted.

Possession of Peyote

Possession 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.

Possession of Substances that Emit Toxic Vapors

It is illegal to knowingly inhale or drink any substance that contains or emits toxic vapors. This includes substances such as glues, aerosol sprays, and isopropyl alcohol. Possession of 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.

Possession of Marijuana

The punishment for possession of marijuana for personal use depends on the amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession:

  • Possession of less than two pounds is a Class 6 felony.
  • Possession of more than two pounds but less than four pounds is a Class 5 felony.
  • Possession of more than four pounds is a Class 4 felony.

Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by four months to two years in prison and a fine of up to $ 150,000.

Class 5 felony. 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.

Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony is punishable by one to 3

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