New Marijuana Law

Tempe Lawyer for Representation Under the New Marijuana Law

Arizona drug crimes laws have long been considered some of the most harsh in the nation. Recently, this has changed. Voters passed a marijuana law in 2020 that decriminalizes certain marijuana-related actions. Driving under the influence of marijuana, however, remains unlawful. If you were subject to a DUI arrest you believe is affected by the new marijuana law, you should call experienced Tempe DUI defense lawyer James E. Novak. Mr. Novak has more than two decades of experience working in the criminal justice system. He has served as a former prosecutor, but now uses his insights to defends clients accused of drug offenses or DUI in Phoenix and elsewhere in Maricopa County.

Impact of New Marijuana Law

Arizona voters have sought change. A new marijuana statute is now in effect and it may apply to your possession and personal use of marijuana or marijuana products. However, under this law, you will be guilty of violating the drunk driving statute, A.R.S. section 28-1381(A)(3) if you are subject to chemical testing and metabolites or components of marijuana are found in your body and you are also impaired to the slightest degree.

In order to pull suspects over for DUIs, Officers must be able to articulate a reasonable suspicion in DUI cases that the suspects were engaged in a criminal activity. After you’re pulled over for suspected DUI in or around Tempe, an officer will try to determine whether you’ve been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and whether there’s probable cause to arrest you. A urine or other chemical test will determine whether you have metabolites or components of marijuana. However, chemical tests aren’t reliable for showing whether you were impaired by marijuana while driving; they just show you’ve used marijuana at some point in the past.

Accordingly, we may be able to bring a motion pointing to procedural irregularities or other facts to try to get your urine or other chemical test results excluded from evidence presented at trial. We may be able to get chemical test results suppressed if the officer didn’t have a reasonable suspicion you were involved in criminal activity or there was no probable cause to arrest you prior to the test. Without chemical tests, the prosecution may not have a case or their case may be weak such that we have more leverage to negotiate.

Under the new law, officers can’t use the odor of marijuana as the sole reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, except when investigating a DUI.

What If I’m Caught Possessing Marijuana During a Maricopa County DUI Investigation?

Sometimes, a driver’s car is searched during a DUI investigation or afterward as part of inventorying the contents of the car. The new marijuana law specifies you shouldn’t be charged for marijuana possession and certain other activities that were previously crimes if you’re caught with less than one ounce of marijuana.

You’re allowed to transport six or fewer marijuana plants for your personal use at your primary residence in Tempe, too, as long as you are abiding by specific rules: (1) you aren’t producing over 12 plants at a single residence where at least 2 people who are at least age 21 live at once, (2) your cultivation is occurring within a locked, enclosed space that kids can’t get into, and you’re growing in a space where the public can’t observe them without optical help, such as aircraft.

What if you’re driving to a friend’s to drop off half an ounce of marijuana? You shouldn’t be charged for transferring less than an ounce to someone at least age 21, though, if you are high and impaired, you could face a DUI charge.


The law has changed. Even so, you may find yourself caught up in criminal charges. You shouldn’t despair. It’s important to consult an attorney if you’re charged for a marijuana crime. There are a range of ways in which we may be able to defend you under the new marijuana law.

Retain a Seasoned Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Arizona

When you’re charged with a crime, it’s normal to be concerned and anxious about your future. Your future could be at stake. Seasoned Tempe criminal defense attorney James E. Novak keeps up with changes to drug laws. He is following the development of judicial case law closely as it relates to the new marijuana law. He represents those accused of marijuana DUIs and other crimes in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.