Different Types Of Drug Sentence & Penalties In Arizona

Under Arizona law, illegal drugs are categorized into several different types. The criminal charges associated with each type of drug varies depending upon its classification. If you have been arrested for a drug-related crime, it’s crucial to contact an experienced Gold Canyon criminal defense attorney right away so that you can be represented and defended against any charges you may end up facing. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand how the state laws will impact your specific case and build a defense to protect your rights. 

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Learn more about how the different types of illegal drugs are classified under Arizona law:


Drug offenses involving marijuana are described in the state code ARS 13-3405. A recent law, which was passed by Arizona voters in November 2020, legalized the use, possession, and production of marijuana under certain circumstances; however, it is still illegal to sell, transport for sale, or offer to sell marijuana. There are several possible charges involving marijuana. The most significant charge is for selling or transporting for sale more than 2 pounds of marijuana. Under Arizona code, this is a class 2 felony and includes all of the typical punishments, including prison or jail time, fines, and more. It’s important to understand that even though recreational marijuana is legal within the state of Arizona, it is a felony to import it into the state and a federal crime to transport it over state lines.

Prescription-Only Drugs

Prescription drugs are substances that are legal for use by patients who have a prescription from their medical doctor, but are illegal when used by other individuals. This is explained in ARS 13-3401, which lists a large number of illegal substances. Frequently, prescription medications that are used illegally are pain medications such as fentanyl, oxycodone, and Vicodin. 

Arizona state code defines prescription only drugs as medications that are recognized as safe to use only under medical supervision and that can only be obtained with a prescription from a medical doctor. Specific crimes related to prescription only drugs include possession or use without a legal prescription and manufacturing or selling the drugs without the proper licensure. Other potential crimes include administering one of these substances to another person, obtaining a prescription through dishonest or illegal means, and possession or use of a misbranded prescription drug. These crimes range from Class 2 misdemeanor to Class 4 felony, depending upon the particulars of the situation.

Dangerous Drugs

As a broad category within state law, drugs that fall under this classification include hallucinogens, synthetic marijuana, amphetamines, depressants, and anabolic steroids, all of which are listed in the state code ARS-3401. Another portion of the Arizona state code lists possible charges related to these dangerous drugs, including the use, possession, sale, transfer, manufacture, or administration of any of these drugs, or obtaining one through fraudulent or dishonest means. The conviction is severe, ranging from Class 4 felony to Class 2 felony. Sometimes, such as when the crime was only use or possession, a judge may decide to convict as a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, although this will not happen if the drug was LSD, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine. Harsher penalties will apply for any charges in this statute when methamphetamine is involved in the case.

Narcotic Drugs

Narcotic drugs are substances that affect mood or behavior, and especially those that dull pain, as listed in ARS 13-3401. Common examples of these drugs include cocaine, heroin, and varying opioids. Cannabis is also included in this category, which can sometimes become confusing. However, marijuana is classified as a separate class of drug while cannabis is a narcotic. A precedent was set in a 2019 Arizona Supreme Court case, State V. Jones, which determined that medical marijuana patients are legally able to possess cannabis. Because the situation involving marijuana or cannabis is complex, it’s imperative to have an experienced Paradise Valley criminal defense lawyer on your side if you are facing any kind of drug charges. 

Arizona state law defines penalties and charges involving narcotics as Class 4 felony up to a Class 2 felony. Specific charges include possession, use, sale, manufacture, or administration, along with obtaining a narcotic through fraudulent means. 

Contact a Drug Crime Defense Attorney In Arizona

If you are facing drug charges, you may be wondering what penalties you may receive and what you can expect throughout the court process. A San Tan Valley criminal defense firm can guide you through the process, represent you in court, and potentially help reduce your sentence. 

This article is courtesy of My AZ Lawyers, an experienced criminal defense firm specializing in DUI, personal injury, bankruptcy, and family law. Our mission is to provide quality defense and dignity to all of our clients.


Published On: February 17th, 2022Categories: Drug Offenses

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