While the cannabis industry starts to prepare itself for the possible federal crackdown that Sean Spicer hinted at last week, a letter from a Las Vegas based U.S. Attorney suggested that federal interference might be closer than anyone expected.
The 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup is planned for this coming weekend (March 4th and 5th) with two days of trade shows, concerts, community and a whole lot of weed on the menu. It’s all being hosted on tribal land owned by the Moapa Paiute Tribe just north of Las Vegas. Since Nevada legalized adult recreational use at the end of last year, the cup will be open to everyone over the age of 21 with a valid ticket. But according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the festivities might be cut short by federal authorities looking to execute Spicer’s sentiment.
Earlier this month, the Moapa Paiute Tribe received a letter from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden outlining the ways in which the High Times event would break federal law.
"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." Bogden wrote.
The Cole Memorandum Bogden mentions refers to former Deputy Attorney James Cole, who, during the Obama Administration, directed U.S. attorneys to consider local laws when enforcing federal marijuana laws.
Bogden also mentioned, and subsequently discounted, the Guidance Memorandum, which says that U.S. attorneys and tribal governments should consult government-to-government about any issues crossing onto tribal land.
"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 wrote in the letter.
If that doesn’t sound like a threat, we don’t know what does. However, that isn’t stopping the Moapa Paiute Tribe from continuing on with the Cup.
High Times has yet to make a public statement about the letter, but for leaders of the Moapa Paiute, the issue is larger than just cannabis.
"To us, we’re looking at it as utilizing our sovereignty," Tribal chairman Darren Daboda said. "As long as (marijuana) is not visible, we’re told it will be OK.”