Marijuana and Interstate Commerce in Arizona

With the ever-growing -pun intended- marijuana industry taking over not just Arizona but many other US states, the assumption would be that, like any other legalized substance, you’re free to do as you please with regards to transportation. Why wouldn’t you assume that you could go from marijuana-friendly Arizona to marijuana-friendly California with marijuana in your possession - it’s all the same, right? Well, unfortunately, there’s still one big boss that marijuana hasn’t found a way to relax just yet: capitalism. Although this may soon change, let’s look at the current state of affairs and get a glimpse into what the future might hold.

As of this very moment, transporting recreational marijuana from one state to another is a crime, regardless of the recreational status of marijuana in that state. The severity of that crime rests with local laws, but carrying marijuana from another state into Arizona is a Class 2 Felony. It should be noted that a Class 2 Felony is the second-highest degree of crime you can commit in Arizona, with a punishment range of 3 to 35 years in prison. The problem with bringing drugs across state lines is, simply put, it’s trafficking. In the same way a cartel bringing drugs into the country can be punished, so can you for bringing them across state lines. Granted you shouldn’t assume you’d face the same fate as a cartel mule, especially depending on the amount you’re carrying, but you could be charged under the same statute, and you could be looking at a significant penalty.

The issue, as of now, with transporting drugs across state lines is twofold. For one, even if you keep your receipt, you cannot certifiably prove where you obtained the marijuana. Second, by transporting your own weed to a state where you can also legally buy weed, you’re hurting local business. Why would California let you bring your Arizona weed across the border when they can make you leave it at home and buy it there? That’s just good business! However, Arizona lawmakers are currently introducing a measure to allow interstate marijuana commerce. In essence, Arizona growers and dispensaries would be allowed to set up shop in other states where recreational marijuana is legal and vice-versa. While we shouldn’t assume this would automatically open the doors to interstate marijuana transportation, it could be the opening you need to smoke your Arizona-grown on the beaches of San Diego.

If you find yourself up in smoke over a marijuana charge, call us at Palestini Law today, where we’ve been fighting the good fight for your cannabis rights since the medical marijuana days. Remember those? Even if you don’t, we do, and we’re here to defend you without puff-puff-passing the buck.


Originally from Toronto, Canada, James Palestini relocated to Arizona where he received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Studies with a minor in Criminology from Arizona State University. James then attended law school at Phoenix School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctorate degree. While pursuing his doctorate, James interned at a criminal defense firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. James handled a multitude of criminal cases there, including felony, misdemeanor and criminal traffic matters.