Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana in Arizona

When Arizona voters passed Prop 207 in November 2020, they ushered in a new era of legalized marijuana for adults ages 21 and over. The new law, The Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA), was quickly implemented, giving Arizonans the right to legally possess, use, and grow marijuana without having a state-issued medical ID. All marijuana purchases (medical and recreational) are only allowed at Arizona licensed dispensaries.

Now that both medical and recreational marijuana are legally available, you may be wondering, “Why bother getting or holding onto a medical marijuana card when I can buy marijuana without one?”

Well, don’t jump to conclusions. Read these comparisons first.

Legal Ages For Medical And Recreational Marijuana
If you have a legal guardian register as a caregiver, there’s no age restriction for becoming an Arizona medical marijuana patient. But with recreational cannabis you must be at least 21 years old to make legal purchases.

Purchase Allotments For Medical And Recreational Marijuana
While medical marijuana patients can currently buy up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, recreational customers are only allowed to purchase up to 1 ounce per dispensary visit (with no more than five grams being concentrates or extracts).

Prices For Medical Marijuana And Recreational Marijuana
Medical marijuana prices will likely remain the same as Arizona marijuana dispensaries start to serve recreational customers. But it remains to be seen what recreational customers will be paying. In a number of other states that have both medical and recreational marijuana, the cost of medical decreased when the recreational laws went into effect.

Wait Time For Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana
Recreational marijuana will no doubt increase demand. Most Arizona dispensaries will probably create separate lines for medical and recreational customers to make purchases.

Cultivation Of Marijuana Plants
Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow plants under specific rules. Recreational marijuana can be grown by anyone over the age of 21, with cultivation capped at 6 cannabis plants per individual’s primary residence, and 12 plants at residences with two or more adults who are over the age of 21.

Delivery Of Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana
Medical marijuana patients can get products delivered to them, but for now, purchases of recreational marijuana have to be made in person.

Usage Of Marijuana On The Job
Employers can discriminate however they want, but they can’t fire someone with a medical marijuana card who tests positive for marijuana use. They can only take action against employees if they’re impaired  or in possession of marijuana at the workplace.

Sales Tax On Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana
Medical marijuana is taxed at 5.6%, the standard Arizona state sales tax rate. However, with recreational cannabis, customers will pay an additional 16% excise tax. That means that medical marijuana patients will save $16 for every $100 they spend on marijuana, compared to recreational buyers.

So what does all of this mean when you look at the big picture? In summary, medical marijuana customers in Arizona will benefit from lower prices, lower taxes, and shorter wait times – as well as higher limits for purchasing and possession. Recreational buyers, on the other hand, can buy marijuana without having to obtain an Arizona medical marijuana card.

All in all, having these new options is a huge step forward in the evolution of Arizona’s marijuana industry. That’s great news however you look at it!

For more information, see these related topics:
What Is The Right Cannabis For Me
History Of Medical Marijuana In Arizona
Arizona Medical Marijuana: Dos and Don’ts