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Drug Threshold Amounts in Arizona, and Their Consequences

Under the Arizona criminal law, simple possession of drugs is an enormously different offense than the sale of drugs or the possession of drugs with the intent to sell. Generally, the simple possession of drugs subjects an individual to probation and drug counseling. Possession for the purpose of sale, on the other hand, often subjects an individual to mandatory prison terms, and substantial terms at that.

The Arizona drug statutes include what are called "thresholds" in relation to the quantity of drugs possessed by a person. The "thresholds" work in essentially two ways. First, in possession for sale cases, if the quantity possessed is above the threshold, then the offense is not eligible for probation, i.e., MANDATORY PRISON is the sentence that will be imposed by the court. But second, the threshold also informally serves as an indication that the quantity possessed is a "sale" quantity rather than a "personal use" quantity. Normally, prosecutors need to have some "indicia" of intent to sell to go along with charges of possession for sale. These indicia can include packaging materials (baggies, foil, etc) or items that indicate the possessor is involved in the illicit transaction (large quantities of cash, scales, weapons, etc.). However, if the threshold is surpassed, the police and prosecutors may simply assume and suggest that the quantity alone is indicative of an intent to sell.

Here are the Arizona statutory threshold amounts as set forth in A.R.S. 13-3401:

36. "Threshold amount" means a weight, market value or other form of measurement of an unlawful substance as follows:

(a) One gram of heroin.

(b) Nine grams of cocaine.

(c) Seven hundred fifty milligrams of cocaine base or hydrolyzed cocaine.

(d) Four grams or 50 milliliters of PCP.

(e) Nine grams of methamphetamine, including methamphetamine in liquid suspension.

(f) Nine grams of amphetamine, including amphetamine in liquid suspension.

(g) One‑half milliliter of lysergic acid diethylamide, or in the case of blotter dosage units fifty dosage units.

(h) Two pounds of marijuana.

(i) For any combination consisting solely of those unlawful substances listed in subdivisions (a) through (h) of this paragraph, an amount equal to or in excess of the threshold amount, as determined by the application of section 13‑3420.

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