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Consequences of Possessing a Controlled Substance in Arizona

Possessing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in Arizona and other states is considered a serious crime. The exact penalties for possession vary depending on the type of drug involved and the quantity of drug possessed. The intent also affects the severity of the punishments, for example if it was for personal use, or if it was for sale and distribution.

What is a Controlled Dangerous Substance?

Controlled Dangerous Substances are divided into six main groups which are:

  • peyote
  • marijuana
  • narcotic drugs
  • substances that emit toxic vapors
  • prescription-only drugs and
  • dangerous drugs

The statutes that define the penalties associated with the possession of CDS are defined under Sections 13.3401-13.3422 of the Arizona Code. The statutes list precisely which drugs fit into each group and in what amounts.

Classification of Possession of CDS crimes in Arizona

CDS crimes are either treated as misdemeanors or as felonies in Arizona. Felony CDS crimes are divided among six classes, the most serious ones placed in Class 1 and Class 2, whereas the less serious crimes are classified as either Class 4, Class 5, or Class 6 felonies.

Misdemeanor crimes are also classified into three classes. The felony and misdemeanor classes have a punishment range which specifies the fines imposed for that crime as well as the incarceration. Penalties associated with the possession of each group of CDS are given below:

Possession of Peyote – Possession of peyote is considered a Class 6 felony. It also carries a minimum prison sentence of 4 month up to 2 years. Fines associated with possession of peyote can go up to $150,000. Several defense strategies can be used by the offender to defeat a possession charge.

Possession of Marijuana – Depending on the amount of drug in possession, the offender may be charged with a Class 6 felony (for less than two pounds), a Class 5 felony (for amounts between 2 and 4 pounds), or a Class 4 felony (for more than 4 pounds of marijuana).

A Class 6 felony is punishable by 4 months in prison up to 2 years and a fine of up to $150,000.

A Class 5 felony is punishable by 6 months in prison up to 2 and a half years and a fine of up to $150,000.

A Class 4 felony is punishable by 1 year up to 3¾ years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Possession of Narcotic Drugs – Unlawful possession of narcotics for personal use is considered a Class 4 felony in Arizona and is punishable by one to 3¾ years in prison. The court will also impose a fine of 3 times the value of the narcotic of $2,000 cash, whichever is higher.

Possession of Substances that Emit Toxic Vapors – In Arizona, it is illegal to knowingly inhale or drink a controlled substance that emits toxic vapors. Some common examples of such substances are glues, isopropyl alcohol or aerosol sprays. Possession of substances that emit toxic vapors is considered a Class 5 felony which may be reduced down to a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of 6 months in jail with a fine of up to $2,500 whereas a Class 5 felony is punishable by a minimum of six months up to two and a half years in jail, with a maximum fine of up to $150,000.

Possession of Prescription-only Drugs – Possessing or using a prescription-only drug without a valid prescription in Arizona is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by a 6-month jail term and a fine of $1,000.

Possession of Dangerous Drugs – Stimulants, depressants, hallucinogenics and anabolic steroids are classified as dangerous drugs. Possession for personal use of these dangerous drugs as a Class 4 felony which is punishable by one to 3¾ years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.


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