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Arizona Dispensary Laws: The What, Where and How

Arizona dispensary laws are strict.

While the state has moved confidently into legalizing cannabis for medical reasons, it has tried to do so while keeping its recreational use legislation tight.

This means that knowing the ins and outs of Arizona weed dispensary laws are a must for patients and non-patients alike (remember – dispensary laws also cover things like THC vape cartridges and CBD oil).

Let’s take a look at them in detail:

How to get an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card

In 2010, Arizona approved Proposition 203. This legalized the medical use of marijuana in the state.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows state-licensed doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who have any one of a list of qualifying conditions.

Once they have had it recommended by a qualified physician, a qualifying patient can get an Arizona medical marijuana card.

In order to get a card, you need to:

  1. Print out a Medical Marijuana Physician Certification form and have your doctor sign it.
  2. Pay the $150 registration fee (this is reduced by half if you are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes called “food stamps”).
  3. If you are younger than 18, you need to have a legal guardian become your designated caregiver. They need to apply online with you.


If you need more information, you can find it at azdhs.gov/licensing/medical-marijuana.

american court building

How do you legally obtain marijuana?

As soon as you have successfully acquired your Medical marijuana card, you can go to one of the around 100 state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the State of Arizona.

You can then purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. You can only have 2.5 ounces at one time.

If you live a certain distance from the closest dispensary, you or your caregiver may qualify for permission to grow your own crop of up to 12 cannabis plants.

Can you go into a dispensary without a card in Arizona?

No. Or, at least, you can’t go inside and expect to buy any cannabis.

While medical marijuana is legal in Arizona if you have a medical card, it is not legal for recreational purposes.

Even if you have a card, there are certain restrictions on where you can use cannabis. You can’t use it on the grounds of educational institutions, for example.

In fact, outside of registered patients using it for medical reasons, Arizona has some of the strongest criminal marijuana laws in America…

Without being properly registered, even a first offence can lead to:

  • Heavy fines
  • Possible felony charges
  • Actual jail time


If you have a medical marijuana card or equivalent from a different state, you are usually permitted to possess or use cannabis in Arizona.

However, you are not allowed to acquire more cannabis from a dispensary. You can have it in your possession – and you can consume it.

But you can’t buy it. It’s a slightly strange legal area to occupy, yet it is currently the case.

cannabis in a jar next to a scale

How to open a dispensary in Arizona

Opening their own Arizona weed dispensary might be the idle dream of casual smokers across the state. But, luckily for those who use cannabis responsibly and for medical purposes, it isn’t that simple…

This isn’t a process designed for people who’ve been left figuring out where to buy Rick Simpson oil in Arizona one too many times.

Instead, there are a whole bunch of legal requirements, fees and an application process:

1) The number of dispensaries is limited

The number of Arizona medical marijuana dispensary locations is tied to the number of pharmacies currently operating in the state.

The limit is set at one dispensary for every ten pharmacies, so the current limit is 126.

Competition for the original 126 places back in 2011 was relatively fierce and the successful applicants were chosen through a lottery-style process.

2) You need to submit an application

You need to fill in and sign a complete attestation form.

3) There are fees

There is an initial non-refundable $5000 application fee.

There are also additional fees, which include:

  • To become a dispensary agent, $500 for an ID card
  • To become a designated caregiver, $200 for an ID card
  • $1000 to renew your dispensary registration certificate every time it expires
  • $2500 if you want to to change the location of your dispensary or cultivation facility

4) There are various other requirements

Some of the other stipulations of getting an Arizona dispensary license include:

  1. You must be over 21 and pass a criminal record check to be a principal officer or board member.
  2. A dispensary must be a not-for-profit organization, but you can receive payment for expenses involved in operating it.
  3. You need to grow your marijuana in a locked and enclosed facility.
  4. You can acquire marijuana from another registered non-profit or from a qualifying patient or designated caregiver. But that other party cannot be compensated for marijuana.
  5. You need to follow a range of record-keeping, verification and security requirements while you operate.
  6. All staff and volunteers must have a Dispensary Agent Registration Card.


There are also various laws which apply when operating your dispensary. Such as being open for a minimum of 30 hours per week.

All in all, the person to talk to about Arizona dispensary laws will probably be your doctor. You need them to diagnose and approve your condition as qualifying for an

Arizona medical marijuana card in any case.

They should also be able to advise you about how to get your prescription filled.

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