The Cannabis Cup, one of the world’s largest marijuana festivals, is being threatened by federal officials before it even begins.
The event is scheduled to begin on March 4th on the land of the Moapa Paiute Tribe, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
But a U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, Daniel Bogden, sent a letter to the Tribe reminding them that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law. The Cannabis Cup, which is centered around products and lifestyles catering to marijuana users, would be in violation of that law, according to the letter obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“I am informed that the tribal council is moving forward with the planned marijuana event referred to 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. Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”
Since receiving the letter, the tribe has been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resolve the matter without a conflict, according to tribal chairman Darren Daboda, who stated that they consider the larger issue to be one of sovereign land.
Nevada is currently one of eight states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational marijuana.
But last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that federal officials would focus their efforts toward enforcing recreational marijuana prohibition. Later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reminded everyone that even if states pass laws legalizing marijuana, the federal government can and will exercise their right to enforce federal laws prohibiting drugs.
If federal officials were to stop such a high profile event, it would be the strongest indicator so far that the White House is indeed going to crack down on prohibition in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
“As long as (marijuana) is not visible, we’re told it will be OK,” Daboda said.
The tribe is uncertain whether it will pursue further involvement with the cannabis industry because of the strong stance against marijuana that the Trump administration seems to be taking only months after then candidate Trump advocated for state’s rights when asked about the future of marijuana legislation.