Say it ain’t so! Is there really going to be no marijuana at the Cannabis Cup? Event organizers said no weed will be allowed at the event, thanks to a federal crackdown. Thanks, Trump!
According to organizers, the Cannabis Cup will now just be a simple concert headlined by Ludacris “to celebrate the passage of Question 2,” the recreational marijuana legalization law approved by Nevada voters in November, reports Tom George at 13 Action News.The High Times Cannabis Cup, one of the largest “marijuana festivals” in the world, is scheduled for this weekend on tribal land outside Las Vegas. But the whole shebang is facing a possible shutdown if marijuana is present, according to a letter sent by federal officials earlier this month.
High Times representatives claimed they’re still expecting a “great event,” reports TMZ, but want to comply with the Feds to help the marijuana industry “continue to gain legitimacy and social acceptance,” presumably by accepting prohibition, even in a legal state.
The letter, to the Moapa Paiute Tribe from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, who is based in Las Vegas, reminds the tribe that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law, reports Jenny Kane of the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The cannabis trade show and festival, planned for March 4-5, would violate that federal law, according to the letter.
“I am informed that the tribal council is moving forward with the planned marijuana event referred to me as the 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup because it is under the impression that the so-called ‘Cole Memorandum’ and subsequent memoranda from the Department of Justice permit marijuana use, possession and distribution on tribal lands when the state law also permits it,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”That is despite the fact that the federal Department of Justice in December 2014 told U.S. Attorneys not to prevent Native American tribes from growing or selling marijuana on their sovereign lands, even in states where cannabis is illegal. This appears to be yet another instance in which the Trump Administration appears intent on rolling back gains made under the Obama Administration.
The Cole Memorandum, released by then-Deputy Atty. Gen. James Cole in 2011, provided guidance to federal officials in states that who legalized marijuana in some form. The memo advises U.S. Attorneys to take into account local laws when looking at cannabis enforcement, which allowed them to give lower priority to marijuana “crimes.”
The December 2014 memo, known as the Guidance Memorandum, indicated that tribal governments and U.S. Attorneys could consult government-to-government over marijuana issues.
“Nothing in the Guidance Memorandum or the Cole Memorandum alters the authority or jurisdiction of the United States to enforce federal law in Indian Country or elsewhere,” Bogden claims in the letter.
The tribe is trying to resolve the conflict with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to tribal Chairman Darren Daboda. The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed the letter, but declined further comment.If federal officials interfere with the Cannabis Cup, it would be one of the first signs that the Trump White House is indeed going to follow through on the threats from Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to crack down on recreational marijuana in states where it is legal
Vaguely threatening statements are all that have been issued so far, with no clear plan of action from the new administration, in keeping with its approach on many other issues.
“To us, we’re looking at it as utilizing our sovereignty,” Daboda said. “As long as (marijuana) is not visible, we’re told it will be OK.”Rapper Ludacis is set to headline this year’s Cannabis Cup. The event is also supposed to feature pairings of edible cannabis products, spa treatments with marijuana infused oils, and vendors marketing their latest marijuana-centric products, according to the High Times website.
“The tribe is promoting it as a vendors’ crafts, food and concert event,” Daboda said. “We’re not promoting the distributor or selling (marijuana).”
The event is set to be held in a fenced-in area, and only ticket holders 21 and older will be allowed to attend. Hired security will patrol the festival, and tribal law enforcement will be available if backup is needed.Daboda said he “wasn’t sure” if federal law enforcement will be present at the event. He didn’t disclose how much the tribe expected to make from the Cannabis Cup.
Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana legalization last November, with 54 percent voting Yes. The Las Vegas event kicks off this year’s series of Cannabis Cups and is expected to be a celebration of the new law.
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada could be selling recreational cannabis as soon as July.
“This is the kind of event that we’d like to see in Nevada,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), a longtime supporter of the cannabis community. “This could be a huge boost for the tourism industry.”
Even if the Cannabis Cup comes off without a hitch, the tribe is now uncertain if it will have any more involvement with the cannabis industry, because the Trump Administration recently suggested it would exercise “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana prohibition.
“It’s very simple,” promoter Mike “Chili” Houlihan of the Las Vegas Hemp Festival told Toke Signals Wednesday evening. “I don’t care how long you have been producing events or how big you think you are, you dont come to Las Vegas and disrespect.
“This is a whole different monster; this town was built for one reason,” Chili said, “Dont ever underestimate it. Don’t ever disrespect it and you better make sure you come with your game on. ”