Legal Question in Native American Law in California

Are American Indian tribal lands exempt from state medical board laws and controls?

Asked on 3/01/10, 7:57 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

California is one of the "Public Law 280" states, and as such Congress has delegated to it authority to enforce and administer state laws and regulations that are criminal or prohibitory laws in nature, as opposed to civil or regulatory, where state authority is quite limited.

Based on a review of decisions applying P.L. 280 (18 USCA 1162), I'd conclude that since there are significant penal aspects to practicing medicine, etc. without a license, many medical licensing laws would apply to Indians on Indian Country to the same extent they would apply to non-Indians off the reservation.

This is not to say that every "medical board law or control" would apply, but I'm pretty sure, for example, that one would need a pharmacists' license to dispense prescription drugs.

I did not find a whole lot of directly-applicable decisions, so this is somewhat of a guess based on decisions relating to other activities.

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Answered on 3/06/10, 10:39 am

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