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Arizona Medical Marijuana Patients Risk Losing Their Cars For Driving On Tribal Land

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marijuana negative effectsBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

A Native American tribe in Arizona says that the state’s medical marijuana cards don’t apply on tribal lands, and has apparently started seizing the vehicles of legal cannabis patients as they pass through.

Under Arizona law, the state’s 18,000 medical marijuana patients with state-issued cards are allowed to transport small amounts of cannabis in their vehicles — but not on tribal lands, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times.

In the case of the Salt River Maricopa-Pima Indian Community, that includes a strip of the Loop 101 freeway — and it seems that every legal patient who drives down that particular stretch of freeway is not only putting his or her medicine at risk, but the vehicle they’re driving, as well.

stupid idiotsA qualified patient told New Times that he was recently stopped — for “no reason” — on the 101 by a tribal cop, and that his car was seized by the tribe after a few grams of marijuana was found.

The man said the tribal officer pulled him over claimed his reverse lights were stuck on. “They weren’t,” he said.

The officer claimed he could smell marijuana in the car, and the motorist admitted he had some on him — but he showed the officer his medical marijuana registration card. It didn’t help.

The Salt River tribal police officer wrote him a repair order for the reverse lights — then seized the car.

Fortunately, the unnamed source said he learned Friday morning that he’ll be getting his car back. The tribe agreed to release the vehicle to his dad — actual owner of the vehicle — on an “innocent bystander” loophole.

“They’re making him fly out here to get the car,” he said.

The story isn’t unusual, according to J.R. Packhorse, a law specialist who helps defend people in tribal court.

In another case on the Salt River Reservation — this one not on the freeway — “I had a man who lost a brand new Denali for a roach and two seeds,” Packhorse said. “I lost. They kept it.”

While Valarie Tom, a spokeswoman for the tribe, wouldn’t comment on any specific bust, she did confirm that “medical marijuana registration cards don’t apply” on that stretch of the 101, or anywhere else on tribal lands.

This seems to leave Arizona medical marijuana patients in the position of putting their medicine and vehicles at risk if they drive through tribal lands while carrying cannabis — even if they’re just on the freeway going from one non-tribal place to another.

“People who transport drugs in any jurisdiction face the possibility that they will be arrested, prosecuted, and that the vehicles they use to transport drugs may be seized,” reads a written statement from the tribe:

The Salt River Police Department, like all law enforcement agencies, takes appropriate actions with regard to drug offenses. People who transport drugs in any jurisdiction face the possibility that they will be arrested, prosecuted, and that the vehicles they use to transport drugs may be seized.

As the U.S. Attorney’s office made clear in its May 2, 2011 letter to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona law including the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, does not apply to Indian Country. The Community will therefore continue to enforce tribal and federal laws as they apply to drug offenses. While the Community has no desire to interfere with individuals’ exercise of their rights under Arizona law, given that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has not been fully implemented, it does not appear that drivers within the Community, including those traveling on state or federal rights of way, have the legal authority to possess marijuana within the exterior boundaries of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Last May, Gila River Indian Community officials asked Pinal County supervisors not to locate medical marijuana dispensaries within a mile of their borders because “they don’t recognize medical marijuana” and will prosecute anyone who tries to sell or use it on tribal land, reports Lindsey Collom of The Arizona Republic.

Pinal supervisors approved a medical marijuana ordinance without accommodating the tribe’s request.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

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8 Comments

  1. Fossilfueljunky on

    Proof pot is legal Federally For medical use District of Columbia (DC)
    Amendment Act B18-622 (80KB) “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010” — Approved 13-0 by the Council of the District of Columbia on May 4, 2010; signed by the Mayor on May 21, 2010|

    Effective: July 27, 2010 [After being signed by the Mayor, the law underwent a 30-day Congessional review period. Neither the Senate nor the House acted to stop the law, so it became effective when the review period ended.]
    Approved Conditions: HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, other conditions that are chronic, long-lasting, debilitating, or that interfere with the basic functions of life, serious medical conditions for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial, patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
    Possession/Cultivation: The maximum amount of medical marijuana that any qualifying patient or caregiver may possess at any moment is two ounces of dried medical marijuana. The Mayor may increase the quantity of dried medical marijuana that may be possessed up to four ounces; and shall decide limits on medical marijuana of a form other than dried.The Reservation is Federal Territory just like Washington D.C.!!!!!!

  2. Umm, the Natives see it as a loophole to get some free cars! If somehow this is legal then for sure they’re gonna do it. I bet they have spotters set up at the dispensaries. Car is worth anywhere from $500 to $75,000 right? Seems like a good little business for them. What does the state have to say about it? Can you report it stolen?

  3. This is rediculous. Its just the native population trying to strike back in anyway possible. There are so many corrupt native officials in the southwest its appalling. I know for a fact that previous navajo nation presidents that have used cannabis and harder drugs, such as crystal methamphetamine. Native americans IMO are very hypocritical and selfish. The fact that the tribal government seized this property is beyond unimaginable, its down right wrong.

  4. Related story;
    I am form Utah. In my youth my parents took on a native American student from Arizona. His father was the medicine man from the local tribe. I have always referred to him as brother. He is Navajo, with the last name of Manygoats. My brother is the first person who got me high.
    Maybe my connections can get my car back and high at the same time. If the need arises.

  5. As a member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, a medical cannabis provider to the sick and dying and a patient myself I am ASHAMED AND SADDENED by the conduct of the the tribal administration.
    Our people suffer from ALCHOLISM,PRESCRIPTION PILL ADDICTION, and LACK OF LEADERSHIP and not addiction to cannabis, a herb that provides a less toxic method of pain management and wellness instead of uninformed enforcement of a law that was clearly racist at its introduction into congress in 1939.
    We the 1st Nation should not act like those oppressors that “guided us as great white father”.
    Look into your hearts and consider the morality of what you are doing

  6. Yeah, now the government acknowledges the native American. Hahahaha. Just give them a gallon or two of fire water, they’ll let ya pass. Ridiculous.

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