Drinking or Using Marijuana Underage Is a Misdemeanor in Arizona

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Drinking or Using Marijuana Underage Is a Misdemeanor in Arizona

No matter what you see on tv, drinking or using marijuana when you’re a teenager can have some real-world consequences. Underage possession is a class 1 misdemeanor, and you could end up with a criminal record.  

The Legal Age Is 21 for Alcohol and Marijuana

To legally drink alcohol or use marijuana products you must be 21 or older. Partaking of these substances while underage (yes, even if you’re almost 21) can result in a minor in possession charge. No matter whether you are on public or private property, you can still be charged. 

Minors under 21 are allowed into bars, as long as they are accompanied by an adult 21 years or older and are not consuming alcohol. This rule does not apply to marijuana dispensaries in Arizona, where you must be 21 to enter. 

Minor in Possession of Alcohol

Arizona allows parents to give legal dependents (their own children) some alcohol in their own homes. However, it is limited to a “reasonable amount”, often considered one drink with food. This does not give parents permission to supply alcohol for parties or to provide alcohol to be drunk without supervision. 

You can be charged with possession of alcohol if you are caught:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Having alcohol in your possession

Minor in Possession of Marijuana

Buying marijuana products for minors is illegal in Arizona. Unlike the supervised use of alcohol, parents are not legally allowed to give their minor children any marijuana or THC products at all. 

You can be charged with possession if you are caught:

  • Smoking, vaping, or ingesting THC products 
  • With marijuana or THC products in your possession, including in your vehicle 

You can get a class 1 misdemeanor for underage possession.

There are a few ways that law enforcement might charge you as a minor in possession. Depending on your age and level of intoxication, law enforcement might issue a citation, detain you, and/or notify parents or guardians. 

A 20-year-old at a college party might only receive a citation to appear in court. However, a 15-year-old drinking in a park after dark might be detained by the police until their parents or guardians can come to release them. 

No matter the mode of citation, any minor in possession of alcohol or marijuana could be facing a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalty for a class 1 misdemeanor is a maximum of 6 months in jail, fines, or probation. Adults over 18 will be charged and processed the same as for any other class 1 misdemeanor. 

Minors 18 and under will often be shown some leniency if it is their first citation. A fine, probation or community service are common sentences in juvenile courts. However, if you have more than one charge in a short period of time, or if you are being charged with a DUI as well, the judge may consider sentencing you to time in a juvenile detention center. 

If you are charged with underage possession, contact a lawyer! 

People often assume that a misdemeanor charge does not matter like a felony does. While it is true you lose more rights with a felony, a misdemeanor can still greatly impact your life. Besides fines and spending time in jail, you’ll also have a criminal record that shows up on background checks when you apply for jobs and housing. 

No matter your age, if you are facing minor in possession charges, it is important to hire an attorney. If you have been charged with a DUI as well, hiring an experienced defense attorney is even more crucial. The right lawyer can help get your sentence reduced, as well as give advice on getting juvenile records expunged later on. 

Todd Coolidge Can Help You

With over 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Todd Coolidge and his associates know all the ins and outs of the Arizona criminal justice system. We have helped many different people solve their legal troubles with empathy, care, and knowledge. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/26/23). Photo by Sexto Abismo | Ginebra Surrealista on Unsplash.