Today — High Crimes: Marijuana Law in South Dakota and Beyond, Law Review Symposium 2021

Monday, October 25th, 2021 | 8:45am – 4:00pm CT | All events will occur as a webcast

2:00pm EST / 1:00pm CT | Panel: Tribes Entering the Marijuana Industry

New York Racial Profiling Case Involving Mohawk Indian and Marijuana


The opinion in People v. Deer is here (it’s from March). An excerpt:

The court believes that Officer Carrier decided to follow the white SUV and do a radio run because the driver appeared nervous. Her actions were completely consistent with a person who was not engaged in any criminal activity. There was no basis to believe that a vehicle with a NYS license plate and registration had crossed the border or was engaged in any way with smuggling persons or contraband across the border. He drove up behind the SUV, coming close enough on a dark night in a rural area to see her license. As he overtook her or followed her, she swerved, a not unexpected result of having someone come up quickly, not pass and start to follow you. The radio run advised him that the person who owned and registered the vehicle lived at an address on or near the Mohawk reservation and had a name that might be consistent with a person of Mohawk heritage. It could, of course, also be a husband’s name and not her own. The officer then drove into Gouverneur, not for the purpose of stopping the vehicle immediately, but to further observe it, according to his testimony. He placed himself in a position to see into the vehicle with street lights, parking lot lights and his headlights. He had the opportunity at that point to observe Corene Deer with her clearly Native American features. He then stopped the vehicle. He was handed the registration sticker which should have been on the windshield. He wrote his report without even mentioning it, clearly indicating to the court that it was in no way the basis for his stop. Although he testified about observing that the sticker was not on a windshield at a point in his narrative of events that might have led the court to believe he observed it prior to the stop, his testimony on cross examination made it clear that he did not observe it prior to the stop, nor was it the basis for the stop.

Tribal and Federal Authorities Cooperate to Arrest 17 on Standing Rock

The article from the Bismarck Tribune is here. An excerpt:

Besides the FBI and BIA, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Sioux County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Parole and Pre-Trial Services also were involved in the investigation and arrests Tuesday morning on the reservation that straddles North Dakota and South Dakota.

Operation Prairie Thunder resulted in 10 people being charged in U.S. District Court in North Dakota, two people being charged in U.S. District Court in South Dakota and five people charged in Standing Rock Tribal Court.


In another unusual move, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Miller traveled to Standing Rock Reservation south of Mandan on Tuesday morning to hold first appearances for the 10 people charged in U.S. District Court in North Dakota.

“It’s very, very rare” for a federal judge to travel to a reservation for court hearings, Purdon said. “I’m aware of it at least once in North Dakota, many, many years ago.”

Drug Cartels on Washington Reservations

An excerpt from The Seattle Times:

In the backcountry of the Yakama Indian Reservation, a handful of law-enforcement officers spent part of last summer searching for two things: marijuana and the people growing it.

Tribal police and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were acting on a tip about a vast marijuana plantation in the forested highlands of the sprawling reservation. Such tips often yielded abandoned fields of cannabis, but none of the culprits.

But the team hit pay dirt last August by uncovering a grow operation with 8,850 marijuana plants, as well as the suspected grower, an armed Mexican national in camouflage clothing who federal prosecutors say had been tending the plot for almost four months.

Tribal reservations, some with hundreds of square miles of rugged backcountry, have become the front line for law-enforcement eradication of marijuana grow operations in Washington, says Rich Wiley, who heads the State Patrol’s Narcotics Division. Growers are targeting the outskirts of Indian country for their marijuana farms, knowing tribal lands are sparsely populated and less policed, he said. Continue reading

Idaho Supreme Court Rejects “Church” of Marijuana Defense to Criminal Conviction

Here is the opinion in State v. Fluewelling.

An excerpt:

Defendant  relies  upon the phrase, “nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.”  He contends that a preference has been granted to another religion by Idaho Code § 37-2732A.  That statute exempts from the criminal sanctions in the Uniform Controlled Substances Act the transporting, delivery, or possession of peyote by“persons of native American descent who are members or eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe” when such peyote is “to be used as the sacrament in religious rites of a bona fide native American religious ceremony conducted by a bona fide religious organization.” Defendant argues that “[t]he government may not allow the use of peyote as  ‘the sacrament inreligious rites of a bona fide native American religious ceremony’ while at the same time punishing [Defendant] for his sacramental use of marijuana in the privacy of his home.”

Assuming that Idaho Code § 37-2732A grants a preference to certain native Americans in the practice of their religion, that would be a basis for invalidating that statute.  It is not a basis for invalidating Idaho Code § 37-2732(a)(1)(B) under which Defendant was convicted.  The statute under which he was convicted is of general application and it does not proscribe any conduct because it is engaged in for religious reasons or because of the religious belief it portrays.  It is entirely neutral with respect to religion.  It does not directly or indirectly give a preference to any religious denomination or mode of worship.  The district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss.

Arizona v. Hardesty — Marijuana Possession Constitutional Challenge

The Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1, recently decided State v. Hardesty, an appeal of a conviction for marijuana possession based on the state religious freedom law. There is some discussion of peyote law.

Here is the opinion — hardesty-arizona-coa-opinion