Federal Authorities Threaten to Shut Down Las Vegas Cannabis Cup

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shutterstock 100572310

The marijuana industry has been under constant threat from federal authorities over the past week.

In recent years, the marijuana industry has been able to thrive in a pseudo-legal environment. As the Obama administration winded down, federal agents were taking a bit of a hands-off approach to businesses that were in compliance with state law.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department seems intent on reigniting the failed War on Drugs. We have reported on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments that “greater enforcement” is possibly coming soon. Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dug up one of the classic propaganda tunes as he claimed marijuana caused more violence than “than one would think.”


We are in the early stages of the Trump presidency and only days into the tough talk on a potential marijuana crackdown. But the war of words may now be escalating into federal action.

Federal authorities are threatening to shut down a Cannabis Cup that is scheduled for March 4-5 in the Las Vegas area. The event is scheduled to commence on Native American tribal land just outside of the city limits.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden sent a letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe informing them that the use and distribution of marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.

“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.”

The Vegas showdown could prove to be a major litmus test as to how serious the federal government is about targeting the marijuana industry. It could also gauge the willingness of federal agents to disrupt activities on tribal lands.

So far, Bogden is not backing down. “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,” he said.

Representatives for the tribe claim they have been trying to work with the U.S. Attorney’s office. “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.”

Of course, it could be quite difficult for a Cannabis Cup to operate without any marijuana in sight. The cup is one of the most recognized marijuana events in the world and many repeat attendees are likely accustomed to consuming on site.

The Cannabis Cup was founded by High Times in 1988 and held every year in Amsterdam until recently. In 2010, the first cup was held in the United States after marijuana laws began to liberalize.