Beware of Illicit Marijuana Grown on Tribal Lands

By: Hazel Ocampo | Associate |
Theodore J. Griswold | Partner |


Tribal lands are in danger of becoming the target for illicit marijuana grows, which may expose Tribes to hefty fines. Last year, the state of California experienced a massive growth of marijuana cultivation by illicit operations on public forest and park land.

In response, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 165, authorizing severe civil fines against unauthorized marijuana grows causing damage to land managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management, and other state and federal agencies. The law recognizes that illicit marijuana grows lead to water theft and resource degradation. Last year, illicit marijuana growers diverted 5 million gallons of water from rivers and streams, introduced toxic pesticides, and caused the unauthorized discharge of waste into state waterways.

The new law attempts to curtail the harmful environmental consequences resulting from illicit marijuana grow sites. The law permits fines of up to $40,000 for the illegal dumping of hazardous materials into rivers or streams, and up to $10,000 for the unlawful diversion or obstruction of streams or rivers in connection to illicit marijuana grows. These fines will be assessed by courts and by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

So what does this have to do with Native American lands? Potential unintended consequences with steep fines looming for illicit cultivation on state public lands, growers will be looking for a new “safe haven” to grow their product. In many instances, they may be looking at tribal lands as that “safe haven,” which can be a significant detriment to an unknowing tribal community. The best defense for tribal governments is awareness, diligence and the creation of their own protective measures so that illicit growers can be efficiently expelled.

Hazel is an Associate on the environmental team at Procopio as well as an active member of Procopio’s Native American Practice Group. Her practice focuses on environmental law, including climate change, clean technology and sustainability. Hazel regularly assists state and federal government agencies on project permitting involving the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). She also represents businesses and individuals on permitting, compliance and enforcement matters under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Superfund and the Endangered Species Act.

Ted is head of the Native American Law Practice Group and primary editor for the Blogging Circle. Connect with Ted at and 619.515.3277.

Peering into the IHS Physician Review Requirement

By: Natalie N. Mueller | Associate |
Theodore J. Griswold | Partner |
IHS Physician Review
The Indian Health Service (IHS), through the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) and the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA), require that IHS health programs conduct physician peer review. However, often times small medical groups and clinics don’t prioritize the peer review process, and ultimately learn that peer review is not important until it’s important. Additionally, accrediting bodies, like the Joint Commission and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC) require ongoing physician peer review. Continue reading

Now Accepting Applications for Procopio’s 2016 Native American Law Internship Program

By: Theodore J. Griswold | Partner |

Procopio has a long-standing tradition of providing growth opportunities to the communities we serve. Procopio’s Native American Law Practice Group extends this tradition by actively investing in the future leaders of Indian Country through offering paid internships for Native American law students or law students with an emphasis in Native American law. Please join us in identifying qualified legal students within Native American communities that may be interested in being part of this engaging opportunity.

The Native American Law Internship provides an opportunity for a Native American law student, or law student emphasizing Native American Law, to gain hands-on experience dealing with everyday legal issues facing Native American communities. Interns are involved in matters that deal with specific Indian law-related legal practice matters and other legal problems facing tribal governments and Native entities. Procopio Interns reach out to local Native American youth to provide guidance and inspiration regarding educational direction and opportunities.

Interns join a nationwide network of the next generation of Native American Law attorneys in an active alumni program consisting of judicial clerks, governmental attorneys and associates at law firms. If you are interested in where the past interns are following their summer with the Native American Law Practice Group at Procopio then you may want to look a previous post I wrote (“Where are they now? 7 and Counting… The Procopio Native American Internship Alumni). Our alumni is now happily 9 and counting – as we have concluded our Summer 2015 – with Nikke Alex and Anna Hohag.

To learn more about our practice area and issues affecting Native people, you may consider subscribing to our blog by clicking follow on the bottom left of this page. Then, each week, you will receive up-to-date information relating to law, policy and current events in Indian Country from Procopio attorneys and guest contributors.

Applications are due Friday, October 30th by 5 p.m. PST.
Applications should include:

  • The blog post writing sample (see below)
  • Law school transcript
  • Resume
  • Cover letter identifying why this is an opportunity you would like to pursue
  • Any tribal governmental experience you have and why Native legal issues are significant to you.

The writing sample for the internship program should be a 250-300 word sample blog post on a newsworthy Native legal topic of your choosing written in a way that will appeal to readers. This is a fun way to connect your legal experience, researching and writing into a concise piece fit for publishing.

The program extends between eight to ten weeks and begins after May 16, 2016. Applications can be emailed to: or sent via USPS mail to:

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch
Attn: Ted Griswold
525 B Street, Suite 2200
San Diego, California, 92101

Our team looks forward to learning more about you, your interests and adding to our nationwide network of Procopio Alumni throughout Indian Country – please apply today!

Ted Griswold is head of the Native American Law practice group and primary editor for the Blogging Circle. Connect with Ted at and 619.515.3277.