History of Medical Marijuana Legalization in Arizona

As represented on this timeline, the History of Marijuana as Medicine started back in 2900 BC

The federal government in the United States continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 Substance, meaning it has no accepted medical value and it has a high potential for abuse

This federal law has not stopped states from legalizing marijuana.  In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana.  Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in 8 states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia

1996 – Proposition 200

  • Arizona was one of the leaders in the fight to legalize marijuana.
  • In 1996, voters approved Proposition 200 (65% – 35%).
  • Proposition 200 was a drug policy reform initiative; however, it also contained a provision allowing the use of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

1998 – Proposition 300

  • A technicality in terminology caused repeal of the medical marijuana portion of proposition 200 a few months after its approval by voters in 1996.
  • Proposition 200 allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana; however, a prescription was prohibited by federal law.
  • Future propositions corrected the language to avoid conflict with federal law by replacing the term prescription with recommendation.
  • The revision of Proposition 200, named Promposition300, was rejected by voters in 1998.

2002 – Proposition 203

  • Arizona voters failed to legalize medical marijuana (42.7% – 57.3%).

2010 – Proposition 203

  • With a narrow majority, Arizona approves medical marijuana (50.1% – 49.9%).

2016 – Proposition 205

  • Recreational marijuana failed to win a majority of the voter’s support (48.7% – 51.3%)
  • The proposed legislation would have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults of 21, with regulation similar to alcohol, including a 15 percent tax on retail sales.

2018 – In Progress 

  • Recreational marijuana may get on the November 2018 ballot.
  • Initial paperwork filed allows the committee until July 2018, to obtain 156,042 signatures to qualify to get on the ballot.

As of September 2016, Arizona has about 100,000 medical marijuana patients and about 100 operating state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) regulates the Arizona medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).


Who can purchase medical marijuana?

  • An Arizona medical marijuana card is needed to purchase it:
    • Recommendation required from a state-licensed doctor.
    • Patient must have at least once qualifying condition.
    • Allows for the purchase and possession of up to 2.5 ounces from a state-licensed dispensary every two weeks.
    • Special qualifications can permit patient to grow up to 12 pants or find a caregiver to grow for them.
  • Patients under 18 years old must apply with their custodial parent or legal guardian.
  • The qualifying patient may designate a caregiver.


What medical conditions qualify? 

  • Qualifying medical conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Glaucoma
    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
    • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
    • Hepatitis C
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
    • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
      • Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
      • Severe and chronic pain;
      • Severe nausea;
      • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
      • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
      • If your medical condition is missing from the list of qualifying medical conditions, Arizona permits individuals to request additions to the list.


Who can write a medical marijuana certification in Arizona? 

  • Physicians with a valid Arizona license may who have a physician-patient relationship with the patient may write a medical marijuana certification on the specified ADHS form for a patient with a qualifying condition. These physicians include Allopathic (MD), Osteopathic (DO), Homeopathic [MD(H) or DO(H)], and Naturopathic [NMD or ND].
  • The law does not require a physician to write medical marijuana certifications for a patient with a qualifying condition.
  • If the diagnosing physician chooses not to write the certificate, a patient can consult with another physician to obtain the written certification. The new physical must certify that he has made or confirmed the patient’s qualifying medical condition, and the physician declares he has undertaken specific activities to establish a physician-patient relationship.
  • Annually, the patient needs to obtain certification from a physician that the qualifying condition still exists.

Click here to learn the steps involved in obtaining your medical marijuana card in Arizona. 


How to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona

Proposition 203 or the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed in November 2010, allowing patients suffering from certain painful and debilitating conditions, access to marijuana. The Arizona Department of Health Services ADHS is responsible for governing the matters regarding the medical marijuana law and issuing the Medical Marijuana Card or the Cannabis Card in Arizona.

What Qualifies as Medical Purposes?

If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, you get legal state protection and convenient access to marijuana in Arizona:

  • Cancer
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
  • Severe and Chronic Pain
  • Severe Nausea
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Seizures and Epilepsy
  • Hepatitis C
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Crohn’s Disease

The important thing to note here is that in addition to the diseases and conditions mentioned in the Act, the Severe and Chronic Pain category might include pain resulting from any condition or treatment of a condition. Extremely painful conditions like Sickle Cell Anemia may not be listed; however, since it may cause excruciating pain, you may be able to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Similarly, painful rehabilitation programs may be a basis to qualify.

How and Where to Get the Medical Marijuana Card?

If you have already been diagnosed with one or more conditions listed above, and have medical records of the past 12 months showing you have been treated for the said conditions, you can apply for a medical marijuana card. You will need a recommendation from a doctor licensed to dispense medical marijuana in AZ, as your application must accompany a signed Medical Marijuana Physician Certification Form along with documents proving your identification.

You can submit your application online; however, it is best to schedule an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor who can submit your application for you along with the required documents to the ADHS. This allows you hassle free access to your Medical Marijuana Card that will likely be mailed to you within 10 days of your doctor’s visit.

What to Bring When You Go?

When you visit a state-approved medical marijuana physician for your certification, you must bring following things with you:

  • A copy of a valid Arizona ID like Arizona’s Driver License or Arizona Identification Card
  • A current photograph
  • A valid and current credit card, debit card or a pre-paid card
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) documentation

Your doctor will provide and submit following forms in addition to your marijuana card application:

  • Signed and dated Medical Marijuana Patient Attestation
  • Medical Marijuana Physician Certification Program

If you are under 18 years old, you must also provide information about the legal guardian or caregiver

How Much Does It Cost?

Even though you are receiving access to marijuana for medical purposes, the insurance companies do not cover the state’s medical marijuana application fee or medical marijuana physician consultations. You will need to pay following fees to get your medical marijuana card:

  • $150 dollar state fee, if you participate in SNAP program (food stamps) you have to pay $75
  • Around $100-$150 for your medical marijuana doctor’s consultation and recommendation fee

You can expect to pay anywhere around $300, if you are looking to get most of the documentation and process sorted out by your physician’s office.

How to Renew Your Card?

Your medical marijuana card will expire one year after the issue date. The expiry date is clearly mentioned on the right side of your card. It is important that you apply for the renewal at least 30 days before the expiry date. You cannot apply more than 90 days prior to the expiration. The renewal process is similar to the initial application for your card, requiring you to submit same yet updated documents and costing you the same amount of money.

How to Get Your Medical Marijuana 

There are about 100 state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona. It is important to access a quality dispensary near you, when looking to buy legal medical marijuana. You need to bring your marijuana card as well as a government issued ID to get the amount and kind of marijuana you need to help you with your medical condition.

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