This weekend, the first Cannabis Cup to be held in Las Vegas on Native American land was wrought with challenges and controversies. The event is hosted by High Times, the popular marijuana related magazine that’s been in circulation since 1974. The Cannabis Cup is host to a trade show where people can sample various weed related products, competitions and instructional seminars and concerts that take place over 2 days. This year, those 2 days fell over the 4th and 5th of March. Unfortunately, the event was dampened by threats from the federal government and ultimately cut short by high winds.
Threats of Federal Interference
Within the weeks leading up to the event, the Moapa Paiute chairman received a phone call, a visit and then a letter threatening to crack down on any marijuana possession or consumption at the festival. The letter, sent by U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, stated that “transport, possession, use and distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana” is illegal by federal law. Bogden’s letter talks about the Obama administration’s “Cole Memorandum” which gives federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors directions on how to handle the law and its implementation in states that have legalized marijuana in any way.
“The So-Called ‘Cole Memorandum’”
“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,” writes Bogden. The letter goes on to advise the event organizers that they will need to comply with federal law in this instance.
A Lack of Marijuana at the Cannabis Cup
Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, classed alongside heroin and considered to have no medicinal value. The outdated law is still running havoc as evidenced in this circumstance. Despite this, many still turned out to support the event. According to Moapa Paiute spokesperson Anderson, the event was attended by 15,000 people and they had 250 vendors from 15 different countries. While many still dropped out, the organizers pushed through against the odds overall and managed to have a successful first day despite the truly strange circumstances. Organizers made sure that the event was in line with federal law, which meant there were “marijuana” edibles and oils with no actual marijuana in them. Festival goers were given directions on how to sample products after the event at regular dispensaries. Nevada residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in last year’s November ballot which means that residents were able to access marijuana legally (after the fair) from dispensaries around the state.
Unfortunately, strong winds reaching up to 60 mph were forecasted for Sunday and day 2 of the event was cancelled. Saturday night’s concert by hip hop artist Ludacris marked the end of this year’s Cannabis Cup. Ticket holders were told they could use their ticket for the So Cal Cannabis Cup, which happens at the end of April.