Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana in Arizona

September 4, 2023 

Welcome to the Arizona cannabis scene, where both medical and recreational marijuana are on the menu. You might think that with the legalization of recreational weed, medical marijuana cards are out of the picture. But hold on – it’s not that simple. As it turns out, having a medical marijuana card is like having a special key that unlocks extra benefits.

Whether you’re trying to decide if medical or recreational marijuana is right for you, or simply want to know the ins and outs of recreational use in Arizona, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s explore what’s happening with medical and recreational marijuana in Arizona. And in the process, discover the many reasons why an AZ medical card is still something many patients seek out.

Arizona Recreational Marijuana

Arizona is one of 15 states to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Arizona legalized cannabis for adult use in 2020 through Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Act. As a result, the law allows adults 21 and over to legally buy, possess, and consume cannabis from licensed dispensaries. Additionally, residents can lawfully grow their own plants at home. 

Still, there are some restrictions and regulations that come with recreational weed use in AZ, for example:

  • Adults can only buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana per transaction, with no more than 5 grams of concentrates or extracts.
  • Recreational users can only grow up to 6 plants per person or 12 plants per household.
  • Furthermore, recreational cannabis in AZ is subject to an extra 16% excise tax, besides regular sales taxes.
  • Adult users cannot smoke in public or drive under the influence of cannabis.
  • Also, it is worth noting that recreational users have no protection from employment discrimination based on their marijuana use.

What’s the Difference Between Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana in AZ?

Below is a brief overview of medical vs. recreational marijuana in Arizona:

  • Medical marijuana is available for patients of any age with a qualifying condition and a state-issued medical card. Recreational marijuana is only legal for adults 21 and over with a valid ID.
  • Medical patients can buy more marijuana (up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks) compared to recreational buyers (up to 1 ounce per transaction)
  • Medical marijuana is subject to less tax (only 5.6% sales tax) than recreational marijuana (an extra 16% excise tax on top of the sales tax).
  • Cardholders can grow up to 12 plants at home if they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary. Recreational customers can grow up to 6 plants per person or 12 plants per household, regardless of their distance from a dispensary.
  • Medical marijuana patients have access to weed delivery services in Arizona. However, recreational customers can only get their cannabis in person at dispensaries.
  • Employment protections exist for medical marijuana users unless impaired at work. Recreational customers have no such protection and can get fired for testing positive for marijuana.

Reasons to Get a Medical Card in AZ

If you need marijuana for your health, then a medical card can offer financial, legal, and healthcare benefits.

Here are some reasons why getting a medical card is a good idea:


Cheaper Marijuana


Increased Limits


Greater Potency


Grow More Plants


Lower Age Limits


Legal Protection

1. The Price Difference between Medical and Recreational

Did you know there’s a significant price difference between medical and recreational marijuana in Arizona? Those with a medical marijuana card can save a lot of money. How? Medical cannabis is only subject to the standard state sales tax rate of 5.6%. Yet recreational cannabis has an additional 16% excise tax. So, medical card holders save $16 for every $100 they spend on cannabis. 

Taking advantage of this price difference is as simple as getting a medical card. By doing so, you can enjoy substantial financial relief through lower Arizona weed tax rates.

2. Greater Possession & Purchase Limits: Allotment Rules in AZ

There is a notable difference between the amount of cannabis medical card holders and recreational users can buy and possess in Arizona. The AZ recreational allotment is limited to only one ounce per transaction. Meanwhile, the MMJ allotment is up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks. 

For patients who need larger quantities of cannabis for their treatment, the expanded purchase and possession limit allows them to maintain their treatment regimen without unnecessary restrictions.

3. Medical vs. Recreational Potency

Many might be wondering ‘is medical marijuana stronger than recreational?’ The short answer is yes. 

Medical cannabis users can access products specifically designed to treat their medical conditions. Additionally, medical cannabis is more potent than its recreational counterpart, as it can alleviate various illnesses and ailments. 

The wide range of personalized options underscores the focus of medical marijuana on individual healing journeys. All in all, medical cannabis offers a more potent, tailored approach to healing when compared to recreational weed.

4. Grow More Cannabis at Home: Arizona Prop 207 Growing Rules

If you’re considering cultivating marijuana for personal use in Arizona, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the Arizona Prop 207 growing rules allow recreational users to cultivate up to six plants. However, with an Arizona medical marijuana card, you’re allowed to grow twice as many, up to twelve plants. 

While this difference may seem small, it can benefit medical users significantly. With the ability to grow more plants, medical users can fine-tune their cultivation preferences to align with their medical needs. Plus, the additional plants provide an extra layer of security for those who rely on marijuana to manage their symptoms.

5. Lower Age Limits: Legal Age for Marijuana

Did you know there are different age requirements for medical and recreational cannabis users in Arizona? Qualifying minors and adults below 21 can get medicinal cannabis treatment with a valid AZ medical card. However, recreational users must wait until they are 21 or older. 

But why would someone get a medical card rather than wait until they are old enough for recreational use? The reason is simple. Medical marijuana can offer specific benefits for individuals with certain medical conditions and is often available in more potent forms than recreational cannabis.

6. Legal Protection: Arizona Marijuana Laws

One of the most significant advantages of a medical card is the additional legal protections that recreational users may not have. The Arizona medical marijuana laws protect cardholders from employment discrimination. On the other hand, recreational users risk termination if they test positive for cannabis.

Still, medical cannabis users cannot rely on this protection if they possess, use, or are under the influence of marijuana while at work.


Indeed, recreational weed is legal and available in Arizona. But it’s evident that medical marijuana is the best option for those wanting the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. And the reasons to get a medical card in AZ are compelling: 

  • Access to more potent products, 
  • Higher plant cultivation limits, 
  • Enhanced legal protection,
  • Significant cost savings from lower taxes. 

Add to that the invaluable role of healthcare providers in guiding treatment, and the decision to go medical seems like a no-brainer. So, should you choose medical or recreational marijuana in Arizona? Ultimately, the choice rests with you, depending on your preferences and medical needs.

The Easiest Way to Get a Medical Card in Arizona

If you want to reap the benefits of medical marijuana, here’s the easiest way to get a medical card in Arizona:

Click the Button and complete our patient questionnaire.

Select a time for your appointment with the doctor.

See the doctor to become certified for medical marijuana.

Quick Med Cards is the cheapest and easiest way to get your Arizona medical marijuana card. With our fast service and convenient in-person consultations, you’ll be certified for medical marijuana in minutes.

Questions about Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana in Arizona

Do you still have questions concerning medical vs. recreational marijuana in Arizona? Find the answers below.

Is recreational weed legal in Arizona?

Yes, recreational marijuana is legal in Arizona for adults 21 and older. Arizona voters approved Proposition 207 in the 2020 general election, passing the new law with 60% of the vote. Adult-use sales began in January 2021.

Do you need a medical card in Arizona?

No, you do not need a medical card to buy marijuana from dispensaries in Arizona. Recreational marijuana is legal for adults aged 21 and over in the state. Still, you may want an AZ medical card if you have a qualifying condition, as it has several benefits over recreational marijuana.

Is medical marijuana cheaper than recreational?

Yes, medical marijuana is cheaper than recreational marijuana in Arizona. The price difference between medical and recreational marijuana is mainly because of varying taxes. Medical marijuana is only subject to the standard state sales tax rate of 5.6%, while recreational weed has an additional 16% excise tax besides the sales tax. So, medical marijuana patients save $16 for every $100 they spend on marijuana, compared to recreational buyers. Also, cardholders have access to discounts and specials that may not be available for recreational customers.

Does Arizona have recreational dispensaries?

Yes. Arizona has recreational dispensaries where adults 21 and over can legally buy cannabis. Recreational sales started on January 22, 2021, after the state legalized adult use in 2020 through the Smart and Safe Act.

There are many recreational marijuana dispensaries in Arizona, and some are more popular than others. Based on customer reviews and ratings, these dispensaries seem to offer a great overall experience to customers:

  • JARS Cannabis – Metro Center 
  • Health for Life – Cave Creek
  • YiLo Superstore
  • Harvest HOC of Scottsdale
  • The Flower Shop – Mesa

Can you get weed delivered in Arizona?

Yes, if you have a medical marijuana card. No, if you are a recreational user. Marijuana delivery is only legal to qualifying patients and caregivers with valid medical cards in AZ. Per state law, Arizona may adopt rules to permit and regulate the delivery of recreational marijuana in 2023, and it must adopt such rules by 2025.

Is hash oil legal in Arizona?

Hash oil is not explicitly legal or illegal in Arizona. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act permits qualified patients and caregivers to possess and use cannabis. But it doesn’t mention extracts like hash oil specifically. The same goes for Proposition 207, which allows adults 21 and over to buy, possess, and consume up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of concentrates or extracts.

Are edibles legal in Arizona?

Yes, marijuana edibles are legal in Arizona for medical and recreational use. However, it’s worth considering the regulations in place to ensure safe and responsible consumption. So, ensure you understand the dosing guidelines and laws surrounding their use.

How many gummies can I buy in Arizona?

The number of cannabis gummies you can buy in Arizona depends on whether you are a recreational or a medical marijuana user. If you have a medical marijuana card, you can purchase up to 2,500 mg of THC in edible form every two weeks without a limit on the serving size. Recreational users can buy up to 100 mg of THC in edible form per transaction, with a serving size limit of 10 mg per gummy.

Can you smoke marijuana in public in Arizona?

The answer is a solid no. It’s illegal to smoke marijuana on public transportation or any public establishment such as parks, sidewalks, or businesses. Also, driving while under the influence of marijuana is prohibited and can be dangerous for you and others on the road.

Get Your Arizona Medical Marijuana Card

Get approved for an AZ medical card after an in-person appointment.