Navajo police warn against illegal marijuana, hemp farms

Shiprock, N.M. • Authorities on the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. are warning people against illegally growing marijuana and hemp.

Navajo Nation police issued the warning Wednesday after confirming that officers were investigating complaints about marijuana or hemp being grown near the northwestern New Mexico community of Shiprock.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said his department has turned over its findings to tribal prosecutors for further review.

"The unregulated and unauthorized production of any product that will be distributed and consumed by the public is a danger to our citizens." he said in a statement.

According to police, the fields identified in northwestern New Mexico were connected to a business called "Navajo Gold." They said they could not find a valid license for the operation on or off the reservation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Navajo lawmakers have not passed any legislation that would allow for growing hemp or marijuana for industrial production or distribution. The tribe also has no regulatory body to test, validate or distinguish between marijuana and hemp.

The Navajo Police Department said it will be forming a task force and enforcement team to investigate all unregulated growing and harvesting of marijuana and hemp on the reservation in response to growing concerns. Police also were asking the public to report any such illegal activity to their local police district.