Health | Law | National

Bill against legal marijuana advances in Navajo Nation Council





Navajo Nation Council
A view of the Navajo Nation Council chambers in Window Rock, Arizona. Photo from Facebook

A bill to reaffirm the anti-marijuana policy of the Navajo Nation is advancing in the Navajo Nation Council.

Marijuana is already illegal under tribal law and the tribe has opposed efforts to legalize it in Arizona. Legislation 0083-15 says the drug doesn't fit within Navajo culture.

"Legalization of marijuana fails to align with the Navajo Nation's values and traditions," the bill states.

The lawmaker who introduced the bill believes the tribe might be ready to address legal marijuana sometime in the future. Until that day comes, Delegate Edmund Yazzie insisted the tribe must stand by existing policy.

“Years from now, I see the nation utilizing marijuana in the future, but not until law enforcement and our laws are ready for the use of this drug,” Yazzie said. “Right now we need to reaffirm that the Navajo Nation is going to stand opposed to the legalization of marijuana on the reservation.”

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, however, believes the tribe can address medical marijuana today. She plans to introduce an amendment to the bill that would allow Navajo veterans to use the drug to treat post-traumatic stress disorder

"Navajo veterans have been prescribed medical marijuana and are only able to use it on the outside boundaries of the reservation, and they are not able to come back home and use their medications,” said Crotty. “We need to make sure that our veterans have access to these prescriptions.”

The Health, Education, and Human Services Committee approved the bill by a 3-0 vote last week and it now goes to the Law and Order Committee. The full council would need to vote on the bill for it to become law.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But a new Department of Justice policy could open the door to tribes that want to legalize the drug.

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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