Drug War

Tribal Police in Arizona Seize Cars of Medical Marijuana Patients


While Gov. Jan Brewer has blocked the licensing of dispensaries under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the law still protects patients with state-issued IDs from punishment for possession—except on tribal lands. The Phoenix New Times reports that tribal police are seizing the cars of patients who cross Native American land with their medicine, including motorists on "a strip of the Loop 101 freeway that runs from south of McKellips Road to the Pima Road/90th Street exit." The Salt River Maricopa-Pima Indian Community issued this statement in response to an inquiry from the New Times:

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.

"In other words," the New Times advises, "if you're passing through Indian Country, leave the bud at home—whether or not you're legal under state law."

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]


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  1. It sounds like they’re not bothering with the trouble and expense of actually jailing people for breaking tribal law. They’re just stealing their shit.

    Here’s hoping one of the medpot activist groups puts up a billboard before the last exit: “WARNING: Indian Reservation Ahead. Take Next Exit to Avoid Seizure of Vehicle for Legal Possession of Medical Marijuana.”

    Maybe use that picture of the crying “Indian” from the old littering ads for a background.

    1. It sounds like they’re not bothering with the trouble and expense of actually jailing people for breaking tribal law. They’re just stealing their shit.

      It’s more efficient that way.

      Maybe use that picture of the crying “Indian” from the old littering ads for a background.

      Only about four of us would get it.

      1. Come on Paul, give your fellow Americans some credit: Simpsons did it.

        1. Smile, Dagny, you’re one of the four.

        2. Gang of Four?

      2. Litter make chief cry. Bud make chief sob like he got an arrow in knee. Please feel free to gambol on our sacred land.

        1. Bud make chief sob like he got an arrow in knee

          I LOLed.

          1. Fus roh dah, mother-fuckers.

      3. Only about four of us would get it.

        Make that five!

        1. Six.

          Also, regarding pot….

          I learned it from you , Dad !

  2. Anyone want to buy a used Volvo station wagon with handicapped plates and a phish sticker on it?

    1. Got any peyote?

  3. Who approved this (presumably state funded) road to cross Indian land?

    Any Arizonan traveling across this stretch is subject to tribal law on potentially everything from guns to radar detectors, prescription drugs, etc.

    If this were another less populated area, I would suggest planning begin immediately for a bypass.

    1. In AZ I’d imagine it’s hard to draw many reasonable highway routes that don’t enter a reservation at some point.

      The NYS Thruway goes through an Indian reservation along Lake Erie, but that’s actually an oasis of freedom where you can buy cigarettes and fireworks.

      1. The 101 is a pretty major artery. You could take the 202W to the 51N and then backtrack via surface streets, but that would add (I’m estimating) 30+ minutes to your trip. The 101N is usually a lot more convenient.

    2. It was cheaper to lease the highway land from the Pima than to eminent domain and demolish a bunch of luxury houses in Scottsdale.

    1. Oh, you beat me to it.

    2. how the fuck is that a “loop”?

      1. It appears to be a section of a partial loop. Zoom out to see where 101 goes.

        1. I bet if they finished the loop, people would live in the SW end of town.

          1. When I left in 1992, there was only I17 going north and I10 going straight through town.

            The 101 is a semi-loop that starts in the west at I10; heads north, then east, and then south to connects to the 202 east of Phoneix.

            The 202 didn’t exist then either. So the basically built two “independent” semi-loops around Phoenix proper and Mesa/Gilbert/Chandler to the east.

          2. The SW end of town appears to be a mountain, so I’m guessing that’s why nobody lives there/there’s no loop.

  4. Each one of those cops needs a carton of tax-free cigarettes shoved up their ass. Preferably already lit.

    1. How about motorists just exercise their sovereignty and shoot the fuckers in defense of their bodies and property?

      1. Yeah.

        That’ll work. They won’t go to jail (or to the morgue) for prosecuting a WAR ON COPZ!!11one!eleventy!! or anything.

        1. I was pipe-dreaming, dude. They’ll get needled for defending themselves from predatory thugs in state-issued uniforms.

          1. TRIBE issued uniforms, in this case

      2. Works with non-tribal cops, too.

      3. Can I take a train through there and shoot buffalo and Indians out the window?

        1. If they’re raiding parties, sure.

  5. For perspective, this is the stretch of freeway that the article describes. If you’re travelling anywhere in east Scottsdale, you’ll be on it.

    I drive this route several times a month, and I have literally never seen a tribal LEO patrolling the freeway. I do see DPS and others. This makes me wonder how many people could possibly be picked up as a result of this.

    1. What the hell are you doing in Scottsdale?

      1. Playing volleyball, going to parties. That sort of thing. I have friends on the north side.

      2. Also, the Scottsdale Art Walk is a good date place, I’ve found. Make them believe you’re cultured.

        1. Also, the Scottsdale Art Walk is a good date place, I’ve found. Make them believe you’re cultured.

          No need to get all metro just to impress the ladeez; if you want them to know you’re all cultured and stuff, just show them that you’re a regular Reason commentor. Panty soup, I tell ya!

  6. What’s disappointing about this is that the Indians are missing out on yet another way to monetize their (partial) sovereignty.

    Seizing cars is penny-ante bullshit. They should be setting up the mother of all medpot dispensaries.

    1. In all honestly, they should just integrate their territories into the states the Indian lands are located in. This retarded semi-sovereignty shit’s getting tiresome.

      1. This is what a more libertarian America would look like. A patchwork of jurisdictions with different levels of autonomy and different laws. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but we can only carp about this so much while remaining true to principal.

        1. Principle.

          1. He spelled it correctly. Leave him alone!

          2. No, it was really me correcting myself. We commenters are just that anal.

            1. Clearly your name is not Tonio but Martin Prince.

    2. They can’t. While their status makes them exempt from state laws, they also do not get the protections from it. They have to follow federal laws and aren’t protected by the 10th admendment even in theory.

      1. Dang. Still, I can just see President Hope and Change and AG We Are All Cowards restaging Wounded Knee at a pot dispensary.

        1. You underestimate the stupidity of the Obama administration.

      2. They have to get back at us somehow. They were introduced to sugar and white flour along with federal assistance and quickly became one of the most obese population groups in the world.

        1. yea, their poor health, in the aggregate is pretty staggering.

          obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, suicide, etc.

    3. Seizing cars is penny-ante bullshit. They should be setting up the mother of all medpot dispensaries.


      However, I’m not sure if this would work. When the Indians started selling cheap cigarettes, the Feds suddenly got all “what sovreignty” on them. Whatever happened with that, by the way?

      1. At least they moved on from stealing horses.

  7. Stand and deliver, paleface!

  8. Wow, that’s a relief.

    Now I don’t have to feel bad anymore about that whole Indian genocide thing.

    That’s a real load off my mind.

    1. They’re just retaliating for the whole “Manhattan for $24” thing.

  9. I have a new favorite fake name.

    J.R. Packhorse, a law specialist who helps defend people in tribal court, tells New Times our source’s story isn’t unusual.

    In another case on the Salt River res, though not on the freeway, “I had a man who lost a brand-new Denali for a roach and two seeds,” Packhorse says. “I lost. They kept it.”

    Packhorse, a Ponca, says the tribe runs a fair court, in general, despite such incidents.

    1. So, “roach”?

    2. What if a posse of angry victims of their courts just arm up and take over the reservation? Funny shit.

      1. The treaty that gives them sovereignty probably also makes it the US Federal government’s responsibility to ensure they don’t get invaded.

    3. When did simple possession without intent to distribute result in vehicle seizures?

      1. When entire populations started becoming pussies and police states starting popping up. Like, 1865.

    4. the tribe runs a fair court, in general,

      Packhorse says his wife is faithful, in general…

    5. for loose and very strange definition of ‘fair’

  10. “A secret band of robbers…”

    1. Man, will Googling Lysander Spooner quotes ever take you to some strange parts of the ‘nets.

      “A Secret Band of Robbers” would be a good prog-metal band name, though.

        1. Their second album, Running from a Gamble Gambol???

          Coincidence? I think not. Where’s the guy with the color-coded blog when you need him?

    2. You called?

  11. That seal is positively retro 8-bit. Also it gives me a headache just looking at it.

  12. “I learned it from you, Great White Father.”

  13. I have it on good authority that they can easily be bribed off with enough firewater.

    Just make sure you don’t have “How the West Was Won” playing on your in-car entertainment system when you get pulled over.

    1. This whole situation just makes me want to go watch F Troop.

      “We’re the Hekawi”

      1. Go Go Gophers
        Watch ’em go go go
        Go Go Gophers
        Watch ’em go go go
        Here comes the captain
        and his sergeant!
        They come a roarin’
        and a chargin’!

        Good times, good times….

        /racist youth

      2. Heh, I hadn’t thought of that in years. Good times.

  14. When did simple possession without intent to distribute result in vehicle seizures?

    Because FUCK YOU, that’s when.

    1. In another life, you’d have made a good cop, P Brooks.

  15. Here in Arizona, The State grants the Indians a near monopoly on casino gambling. Is the State threatened to open up gaming off rez, this shit would end in an instant.


    Over the last twelve years, I’ve taught in a college preparatory alternative school run by the county office of education, a charter arts and business school which I helped to plan and found, and a second charter arts and business school before landing at my current post. My career trajectory has been an intentional downward arc which has finally settled me into a place where I am working with the students who could not, or would not, be successful in other schools.

    I like it here.

    The job is not without its difficulties and it isn’t a place where many teachers would want to be because much of our time and energy is spent on matters that are not directly related to the inculcation of knowledge, skills and ideas. Instead, the balance of our days are spent on management, discipline, coaching, cheerleading, comforting, counseling, and herding and if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that these “non-teaching” roles are the ones to which I am the most attached. Whether it be with Marvin, Donald, Serena, Sally, Roberto, Jorge, Laura, Walteror Jerry, the things that catch my attention are not curricular, but social because so much of what is wrong with our educational system is unrelated to the curriculum (though the curriculum blows, too). Our educational system suffers from a social disease.

    This was highlighted recently in a
    Recent Wall Street Journal Article on Finnish Education which explored why Finnish schools are the best in the world even though:

    High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7.

    How, the article asks, can a system that discourages competition, offers no gifted classes, and puts few limits on student behavior be so amazingly successful?

    They don’t pay their teachers more and they don’t spend much more per capita on education than we do.

    It must be because they’re homogeneous. The article tells us that:

    Despite the apparent simplicity of Finnish education, it would be tough to replicate in the U.S. With a largely homogeneous population, teachers have few students who don’t speak Finnish. In the U.S., about 8% of students are learning English, according to the Education Department. There are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns. Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. (All 15-year-old students took the PISA test.) Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4% — or 10% at vocational schools — compared with roughly 25% in the U.S., according to their respective education departments.

    This is almost always the answer I hear when people start talking about why another country’s schools are better than ours: If we were all the same like they are, we would be able to be just as good. It’s the fact that we aren’t all white or asian (yes, that’s what they are saying, don’t deny it) that is holding us back.


    What’s holding us back is the fact that large parts of our country really do believe that competition, stratification, and limitations on freedom are a prescription for helping foster a learning environment.

    What’s holding us back is a dedicated and powerful minority in this country that believes that universal public education is a mistake.

    What’s holding us back is a nationwide shared delusion that tells us that education is merely a product of schools and teachers, absenting the rest of our society from any responsibility for what happens to other people’s children.

    What’s holding us back is a belief that even our most provincial municipalities should wield near complete control over their schools’ curriculum.

    But mainly what is holding us back is the fact that our country is divided not just by race,religion and culture, but by class.

    Finland, being stupidly socialist, has little to offer in the way of income disparity and so also has little to offer in the way of bad neighborhoods, chronic social unrest, childhood malnutrition and obesity, obscenely high crime rates, or high concentrations of desperate people.

    Finland also never refused to educate entire portions of its population because they were different and lesser.

    Finland also never believed that separate could be equal.

    Finland also never allowed it’s cities and townships to control its most vital natural resource, thereby preventing provincial prejudice from derailing national interests.

    Finland also decided to not let its people starve in the streets.

    We have done it to ourselves and, at least here in California, we are going to make it worse with deep cuts in the very social programs that allow kids to come to school even marginally able to learn. And then we’re going to cut education even further.

    And yet each day, 300,000 teachers go to work in this country. We go to try and mitigate the damage, to try and scrape out another few success stories, to try and inspire kids to look beyond their cirucmstances, to try to make things a little more less-worse.

    1. I used to gambol across forest and plain, but then I took an arrow in the knee.


    2. The only good commie is a dead commie. Remember that, pinko.

    3. God you euro-philes are fucking retards. The True Finns, a highly-nationalist and ultra-xenophobic rightwing party, occupies 20% of finnish parliament – the 3rd largest party.

      They also pay their teachers less and are far easier to fire.

      1. I like how the Fins, Swedes, and Norwegians act all holier than thou – while they treat their native people (the Sami) worse than dog shit. The Swedes actually used to make them work in slavemines.

        1. I also like how Eurotrolls are all “HURRRRRRRRRRRR U STUPID YANKS DESERVED 9/11” and “AMERICA SUCKS CUZ RAYSISM AND KKK” when so many areas of western and central Europe are unbelievably racialist/racist.

        2. The US doesn’t have a sterling record on treatment of native peoples, either. We also used to enslave people.

          Personally, I would have left both those topics alone, here.

          1. What’s this “we” stuff, Kemosabe?

          2. Everybody used to enslave people. Everybody. Modern records matter more.

            1. What the shit?

          3. Everybody used to enslave people. Modern records matter.

          4. i’m not aware of many, if any, cultures throughout history where they didn’t treat others like shit, especially if they had the technological/weaponry ability TO do so. god knows some native tribes, for example, were at least as much meanie heads to other tribes, as the europeans were to indians in general.

            or i could mention king kamehameha and his wars to unify hawaii and basically kill anybody who didn’t submit to his rule, etc.

            despite the noble savage myth, no race, ethnicity, tribe, etc. has a monopoly on being good or evil, and throughout history, the GENERAL lesson was those that COULD fuck over other people … did so

            1. . . . throughout history, the GENERAL lesson was those that COULD fuck over other people … did so

              Yep, anytime one group of people ends up with a small bit of power over others, that power winds up being abused. It’s just in our nature.

          5. That’s the point we’re driving at though – this retard occupier is trying to claim that Finns NEVER believed “in seperate but equal” etc etc…

            Finland has problems, so does the US. Europe does some things right (like encouraging trade school instead of 4-year degrees), and the US does some things right as well.

    4. You were working up to a pretty good criticism of public education, but then you blew it.

      And who is starving in the streets?

      1. All the government workers that’ll lose their worthless positions when a semi-sane president takes office.

    5. tl;dr

      Bring back HERC!

    6. The Finns also fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, and have the distinction of being the only democracy to fight with the Axis Powers.

      Suck it.

      1. The militantly pro-Mannerheim old-guard faction, the very pro-American types and the small classical liberal block of politicians supporting them, got sidelined by the nationalists. Bet they don’t teach that in Finnish public schools.

      2. No – that is BS. Finland was invaded by the USSR. We were all non-interventionist wouldn’t help. Neither would France, the UK, the pussy Swedes, or anyone else. Luckily, the Finns fought like hell and held out until the Germans went to war against the Soviets.

        Towards the end of the war, the Finns had to fight to kick out the Nazis while also holding off another Soviet invasion. They got fucked over hard by the Allies for defending themselves.

  17. Where’s General Crook when we need him?

    1. I’m burning all my Bob Feller memorabilia as we speak!

  18. Dear OWS-

    Fuck you, and the zero-sum-universe burro you rode in on.

  19. What’s holding us back is a belief that even our most provincial municipalities should wield near complete control over their schools’ curriculum.


    Surrender your children unto the Top Men.

  20. In another life, you’d have made a good cop, P Brooks.

    *mails pipe bomb to Paul*

    1. P Brooks is Ted Kaczinsky? Who knew?!

    2. don’t worry, p brooks, … you aren’t THAT cool …

  21. Oh the irony that teh Evul Injuns won’t let people (presumably not tribal members) gambol across the reservation with their huntered and gatherededed weed.


    lulz – perfect

    1. Nah, he’d just accuse medpot of being part of Agriculture, which causes the city state, then blah blah gambol. See, 100% consistent idiocy.

      1. But I totally agree with White Indian. The vinicultural city-state sucks, man.

        1. I happen to like wine.

          1. As a chef, I’d think wine would be quite important to your…chefical pursuits…

            1. And for looking classy while I get hammered on the cheap.

    2. Hippies are far more impressed with Indians than vice versa. It is very amusing to watch this play out.

      1. hippies are more impressed with their noble savage, false, mythological native american than they are with ACTUAL native americans. the idea, etc. is romantic to them. the (often false…depending on the tribe, etc.) of a people that are “stewards of nature” and “in harmony with the land” etc. and all that utter romanticized rubbish.

        i can tell you one thing. hippies in the PAC NW aren’t fans of the REAL natives, e.g. the Makah who have had a treaty with the US Govt. allowing them to hunt whales.

  22. How long until we see an article about how Tribal Police, “in close co-operation with agents of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice” have established drug interdiction roadblocks on the reservation?

    1. Don’t you remember Terry Bressi?

  23. interesting conflict here.

    states rights matter, but so do tribal rights, to be sovereign within THEIR jurisdiction.

    i have friends who are tribal members, with nation in a nation status, and who are tribal cops

    this actually is ironic on many levels, and can also test people’s ideological purity and fealty to concepts of sovereignty and local control

    AZ has not established medical MJ as some sort of constitutional right but merely as legal within the state law framework, thus the tribe, whether or not it is bad POLICY, is ENTIRELY within THEIR authority to decide whether or not they want to allow MJ within their tribal lands

    i think as a matter of policy, they are wrong, but i 100% support their right to set their own standards regarding drugs within their own sovereign land

  24. i also might note, the burden is on the driver of the vehicle to know the laws of the jurisdictions through which he passes.

    i certainly think the tribe SHOULD make some effort to publicize their laws vis a vis medical MJ since they are in conflict with state law, HOWEVER, the ultimate burden does not rest on them.

  25. Hey, if you don’t do anything wrong, ya don’t have anything to worry about, POTHEADS!

    So there.

  26. I’ve always said the casinos are the Red Man’s revenge. Guess the Tribal Po Po are, too.

    Reason #583 I never, never, ever go on tribal land….never.

    1. All four reservations I’ve been on in my life were squalor shitholes. That’s why I never go on tribal land.

  27. There’s nothing really to debate here. If you are on an Indian reservation, you are subject to their laws, be they libertarian or authoritarian. I don’t go to Saudia Arabia and protest their failure to protect my constitutional rights. Indian nations are still nations, even if they fall within our borders. Don’t like their laws? Stay off their land.

    1. One legit question is whether there is notice given that you’re entering their jurisdiction.

      The only experience I have with something like that is the reservation that straddles the NYS Thruway south of Buffalo, and there they do have signs explaining that you’re entering tribal jurisdiction (Seneca, I think) but there’s no opportunity to exit the thruway to avoid entering their territory.

  28. So, no smokem peacepipe then, I take it.

  29. As an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin I am sickened by the conduct of the Tribal Police and the Tribal elders who are allowing this conduct. Our people suffer from acute acholism, horrific addiction to prescriptiona pills. Cannabis when used in medical applications can be helpfull in reducing the need for the harmfull toxic narcotics and prescriptions that have toxic side effects.
    For those tribal police to conduct themselves is such a manner is repungant and should be stopped.
    SHAME UPON THEM FOR TREATING THE SICK AND DYING as they themselves where treated by the Europeans who put them on the reservation.

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