Since Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November, High Times magazine decided to bring the Cannabis Cup—its roving celebration of everything tokable—to the Las Vegas area for the first time. But now the feds are reportedly trying to shut it down, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
This year's festival—which usually attracts between 7,000 and 35,000 stoners—is set to take place on land that belongs to the Moapa Paiute Tribe, a short 30-minute drive from the Strip. Even though weed is now legal in the state, tribal lands fall into murky territory regarding the drug's legality. Under two Department of Justice memoranda, US district attorneys are supposed to consider local laws regarding marijuana enforcement and work with tribal governments on a case-by-case basis.
Despite those directives, Daniel Bogden, a US district attorney based in Las Vegas, recently sent a letter to the tribe, reminding them that the sale, transport, and use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
"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, obtained by the Gazette-Journal.
Darren Daboda, the tribe's chairman, has reportedly been working with the US Attorney's Office to smooth things out before the weekend. The festival is set to feature an edibles cooking contest, high-tech vape pen demonstrations, and performances by Ludacris, Chief Keef, and B-Real.
"The tribe is promoting it as a vendors' crafts, food, and concert event. We're not promoting the distributor or selling [marijuana]," Daboda said. "To us, we're looking at it as utilizing our sovereignty. As long as [marijuana] is not visible, we're told it will be OK."
This could be something of a test case for how the Trump administration is going to handle federal enforcement of drug laws in states where marijuana has been legalized. If federal agents were to show up and shut down the Cannabis Cup, it would certainly indicate how the new White House sees local marijuana laws.
Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer hinted that the feds would be cracking down on recreational weed, but didn't offer a specific plan. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has no love for legalized marijuana either, telling reporters last week, "States, they can pass the laws they choose... I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."