Types of Drugs

Under Arizona Law
Types of Drugs Under Arizona Law
There are various types of drugs under Arizona law and the criminal charges differ depending on the classification. If you have been arrested for a drug-related crime, it is important to understand how these laws can impact your specific case. Here are the types of illegal drugs in Arizona: 


Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-3402 defines peyote as its own, separate class of controlled substance. This is a type of cactus that contains mescaline and has hallucinogenic properties. Possessing, selling, transferring, or offering to sell/transfer this drug is a class 6 felony. Due to peyote’s use in spiritual ceremonies by indigenous groups, some unique factors apply. It is a valid defense under ARS 13-3402 if the defendant used or intended to use peyote for a “bona fide” religious practice of which it was an integral part. The use must also be “in a manner not dangerous to" public safety, health, or morals. At a national level, you must be a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe to use peyote. However, Arizona law does not require tribal membership or indigenous heritage as part of its religious exemption.


Toxic vapor-releasing substances can be drugs under ARS 13-3403. This includes glues, varnishes, and paints and these are illegal to knowingly breathe, inhale, or drink. The law also prohibits selling, transferring, or offering to sell/transfer vapor-emitting chemicals to anyone under 18 or selling them outside of a “licensed commercial establishment.” There are additional restrictions for how these products must be labeled and stored. Violation of any part of ARS 13-3403 is a class 5 felony, although a judge can convict it as a class 1 misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.


Drug offenses involving marijuana are outlined in ARS 13-3405. Note that Prop 207, which Arizonans voted to pass in November 2020, legalized marijuana use/possession/production under certain circumstances. It remains illegal to sell, transport for sale, or offer to sell marijuana. There are multiple possible charges. The greatest charge is for selling or transport for sale if the amount was greater than two pounds. This is a class 2 felony. You should also be aware that even though recreational marijuana is legal in the state, it is a felony to import it and a federal crime to transport the drug over the state lines.

Prescription-Only Drugs

Some substances are legal for patients with a prescription but illegal for other individuals. ARS 13-3401 defines prescription-only drugs as any medications that are not recognized by experts as safe for use, unless under medical supervision. This does not include dangerous drugs or narcotics, although some of these types of drugs can be obtained with a prescription. ARS 13-3406 defines crimes related to prescription-only medications. These include possession or use without a prescription. Manufacturing or selling the drugs without proper licensing is also illegal. Additionally, the statute includes administering one of these substances to another person whose use violates the law, obtaining a prescription through dishonest means, or possession/use of a misbranded drug. Classifications range from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 4 felony.

Dangerous Drugs

This is a somewhat broad category under Arizona law and can include hallucinogens, synthetic marijuana, amphetamines, depressants, and anabolic steroids. For a full list of dangerous drugs, consult ARS 13-3401. ARS 13-3407 lists possible charges related to dangerous drugs. These include use/possession, sale/transfer, manufacture, administering one of these substances to another person, or obtaining one of these drugs through fraud. Charges range from a class 4 felony to a class 2 felony. If the crime was use or possession, a judge may make the decision to convict it as a class 1 misdemeanor if this was a first offense. However, this is not the case if the drug in question was lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), amphetamine, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine. Additionally, harsher penalties apply for any charges in this statute that involve methamphetamine.

Narcotic Drugs

Narcotic drugs are those that affect mood or behavior, particularly those that dull pain. There is a full list of narcotics in ARS 13-3401. Some common examples include cocaine, heroin, and various opioids. One definition that can be complicated is the difference between cannabis and marijuana. Whereas marijuana is a separate class of drug, cannabis is a narcotic. A 2019 Arizona Supreme Court Case, State V. Jones, clarified that medical marijuana patients are legally able to possess cannabis. Because of the legal complexity regarding these two substances, having a lawyer on your side is crucial if you are facing charges pertaining to either. ARS 13-3408 defines penalties and charges related to narcotics, including possession, use, sale, manufacture, administering to another person, or obtaining a narcotic through fraud. The least severe conviction is a class 4 felony and the most severe is a class 2 felony.

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