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Legal Drugs and Substances in Arizona: Comprehensive Guide

What Drugs Are Legal in Arizona

In Arizona, it is against the law to knowingly have or use illegal drugs. If you are found to be under the influence or in possession of drugs, you will likely be charged with felony drug possession. The penalties for drug possession in Arizona can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the type of drug, your criminal record, and whether you are charged with personal use or possession with intent to sell. Arizona’s drug laws are specific and outline the types and amounts of drugs that are illegal, along with the punishments for possession. It is important to understand the drug possession laws in Arizona to avoid legal consequences.

At Nirvana Recovery, we are committed to guiding and supporting you through the complex legal landscape of drug use in Arizona. Understanding which drugs are legal, partially legal, or illegal and the conditions under which certain drugs can be used is essential for making informed decisions about your health and well-being. Here’s a detailed guide on the status of various drugs in Arizona, prepared with your well-being in mind.

Arizona State Legislature Defines the Legality of Drugs

Arizona State Legislature Defines the Legality of Drugs

In Arizona, which substances are considered legal or illegal is determined by state laws enacted by the Arizona State Legislature (Title 13, Chapter 34). These laws classify and regulate drugs based on various criteria, such as their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety. The Arizona Department of Health Services plays a crucial role in regulating the use of controlled substances for medical purposes, while law enforcement agencies enforce these laws regarding the possession, distribution, and use of controlled substances within the state. Additionally, federal laws set by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also influence drug regulations in Arizona and across the United States.

For more detailed definitions and legal specifics, visit FindLaw’s Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3401.

Fully Legal Drugs or Substances in Arizona

In Arizona, fully legal drugs include medications that are prescribed by licensed healthcare providers and obtained through authorized pharmacies. These prescription drugs are legally available for purchase and use when prescribed for legitimate medical conditions and taken as directed by a healthcare provider.

Additionally, over-the-counter drugs that can be purchased without a prescription from pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail outlets are also considered fully legal in Arizona. These medications, such as pain relievers, cold and flu remedies, and antacids, are regulated for safety and effectiveness by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can be legally bought and used by consumers for self-care purposes.

It is important to note that substances’ legal status can change, and regulations may vary based on federal and state laws. To ensure your safety and well-being, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist regarding the appropriate and legal use of medications. This step is crucial in making informed decisions about your health.

Prescription Medications

A licensed healthcare professional prescribes medications for legitimate medical purposes, such as 

  • Painkillers (oxycodone, hydrocodone)
  • Anti-anxiety medications (Xanax, Valium) 
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro)
  • Antibiotics (Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, and Penicillin)
  • Antihypertensives (Lisinopril, Amlodipine, and Metoprolol)
  • Antidiabetic medications (Metformin, Insulin, and Glipizide)
  • Antipsychotic medications (Abilify, Risperdal, and Seroquel)
  • Anticonvulsants (Gabapentin, Lamotrigine, and Carbamazepine)
  • Sleep aids (Ambien and Lunesta)
  • Allergy medications (Zyrtec, Claritin, and Benadryl)
  • Muscle relaxants (Flexeril and Baclofen)
  • Hormone therapy medications (birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy)

These medications must be used as directed by the healthcare provider and used or distributed with a prescription. 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

These are medications available without a prescription, including:

Ibuprofen Acetaminophen Tums
Rolaids Pepto-Bismol Benadryl
Claritin Zyrtec Sudafed
Afrin Delsym Robitussin
Imodium Pepto-Bismol Miralax
Dulcolax Claritin Allegra
Zyrtec Bengay Icy Hot
Visine Zaditor Pedialyte

Purchase limits may apply for certain OTC medications to prevent misuse.


Legal for individuals aged 21 and over. Strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI) and providing alcohol to minors.

Tobacco Products

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Smokeless Tobacco
  • Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes)
  • Hookah (Waterpipe)

Legal for individuals aged 21 and over. Smoking is restricted in public places and certain establishments.

Partially Legal Drugs in Arizona

Partially legal or condition-specific drugs are medications that have specific legal restrictions or conditions attached to their use. Here are two examples:

Cannabis (Marijuana)

  • Medical Marijuana: Medical marijuana became legal in Arizona in November 2010 when voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). This law allowed patients with qualifying medical conditions to possess and use medical marijuana with a valid medical marijuana card issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services. To obtain a medical marijuana card, patients must have a qualifying medical condition, such as chronic pain or PTSD, and a healthcare provider’s recommendation for medical marijuana use.
  • Recreational Marijuana: Recreational marijuana became legal in Arizona on November 3, 2020, when voters approved Proposition 207, known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. This law legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Individuals can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use in their homes.

While recreational marijuana use is legal, there are regulations in place to ensure public safety. Public consumption of marijuana is prohibited, and driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. Individuals need to adhere to the regulations surrounding the legal use of marijuana in Arizona to avoid any legal consequences.


Legal for use in medical settings for anesthesia and, more recently, for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression under strict medical supervision. Ketamine can only be administered by medical professionals in authorized medical settings for approved medical purposes, such as anesthesia or treating depression that has not responded to other therapies.

Drugs Legal in Specific Conditions

Certain drugs and substances in Arizona have specific conditions or circumstances under which they can be used. 

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD products are derived from hemp with deficient levels of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. They are legal if they contain less than 0.3% THC and meet federal standards set by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Psychedelics for Research

Substances like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) and MDMA (ecstasy) are typically illegal but can be used for research purposes under specific conditions. Research involving psychedelics must be conducted in controlled settings by approved research institutions. Researchers must follow strict federal and state regulations and obtain the necessary approvals to study these substances.

2024 Illegal Drugs or Substances in Arizona

  1. Methamphetamine
  2. Heroin
  3. Cocaine
  4. Ecstasy (MDMA)
  5. LSD (Acid)
  6. Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
  7. Synthetic Drugs(commonly known as Spice or K2)
  8. Bath Salts (synthetic cathinones)
  9. PCP (Phencyclidine)
  10. GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid)
  11. Fentanyl (and other synthetic opioids)
  12. Khat (a plant containing stimulant substances)
  13. Anabolic Steroids (often misused for performance enhancement)

Consequences of Possessing Illegal Drugs in Arizona

In Arizona, possessing illegal drugs can lead to severe consequences, including criminal charges, penalties, and potential physical and mental health trauma. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Title 28, Chapter 4: Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Here are the key sections under ARS Title 28, Chapter 4, relating to DUI and drug offenses:

ARS 28-1381: Driving Under the Influence

  • ARS 28-1381 A1: It is illegal to drive under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor-releasing substance containing a toxic substance, or any combination if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
  • ARS 28-1381 A2: It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more within two hours of driving.
  • ARS 28-1381 A3: It is illegal to drive with any amount of a drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the body.

ARS 28-1382: Extreme DUI

  • ARS 28-1382 A1: BAC of 0.15% or more but less than 0.20% within two hours of driving.
  • ARS 28-1382 A2: BAC of 0.20% or more within two hours of driving.

ARS 28-1383: Aggravated DUI

  • A1: DUI committed with a suspended, canceled, revoked, or refused a license.
  • A2: DUI committed a third time within 84 months.
  • A3: DUI committed with a person under 15 years of age in the vehicle.
  • A4: DUI committed while ordered to use an ignition interlock device.

Other Relevant ARS Sections on Drug Possession

  • ARS 13-3405: Possession, use, production, sale, or transportation of marijuana.
  • ARS 13-3407: Possession, use, administration, acquisition, sale, manufacture, or transportation of dangerous drugs.
  • ARS 13-3408: Possession, use, administration, acquisition, sale, manufacture, or transportation of narcotic drugs.

If a person is found to be driving under the influence of illegal drugs or substances in Arizona, they can face penalties similar to those for alcohol-related DUI, including fines, license suspension, mandatory drug rehab programs, and potential jail time. 


Understanding the legal status of various drugs in Arizona is crucial for staying informed and making safe choices. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, Nirvana Recovery is here to help. Our comprehensive treatment programs are designed to address all aspects of addiction and support you on your journey to recovery. For more information, please visit our Substance Abuse Treatment page. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact us. Your health and well-being are our top priorities.

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