WASHINGTON — A warning from the Justice Department could force one of the world’s largest marijuana festivals to press on without the very herb it celebrates.
Nevada’s Moapa Paiute Tribe is scheduled to host the High Times Cannabis Cup this weekend outside Las Vegas. But in a Feb. 16 letter, a federal attorney reminded the tribe’s chairman that while Nevada law permits the recreational use of marijuana, federal law does not, as the Reno Gazette-Journal first reported.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden wrote in the letter, obtained by the Gazette-Journal. “Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”
The pair of memoranda Bodgen references direct U.S. district attorneys to consider state laws in their enforcement of marijuana and consult with tribal governments on a case-by-case basis. But as Bodgen wrote, “nothing” in them “alters the authority or jurisdiction of the United States to enforce federal law in Indian Country or elsewhere.”