Feds threaten hosts of upcoming High Times Cannabis Cup

The upcoming High Times Cannabis Cup, scheduled for March 4-5 on tribal lands located outside Las Vegas, could be at risk of being shut down despite recreational pot use now being legal in Nevada.

Daniel Bogden, the Republican U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, sent a letter dated Feb. 16 to the Moapa Paiute Tribe pointing out that the transport, possession, use and distribution of cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law.

Fifty-four percent of Nevada voters approved adult use of recreational cannabis in November, and a new law allowing the possession of up to one ounce of weed took effect Jan. 1. Cannabis is not yet available at retail outlets.

“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,” states the letter from Bogden obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The Cole Memorandum, released by the DOJ during the Obama era, instructs federal officials not to prosecute cannabis businesses in legalized states as long as they didn’t violate certain provisions, such as not selling to minors or diverting product to the underground market or states without legalized cannabis.provides guidance to federal officials in states that have legalized marijuana in some form.

If federal officials do try to shut the festival down, it would be one of the first indicators that the Trump administration plans to interfere with states that have legalized recreational use. Yesterday, new U.S. attorney and notorious anti-pot crusader Jeff Sessions told reporters he is “not a fan of expanded use of marijuana.”

The High Times Cannabis Cup describes itself as “the world’s leading marijuana trade show, celebrating the world of ganja through competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts and product showcases.” The Nevada event, headlined by rapper Ludacris, is the first in a series of several held across the country. High Times has not made a public statement about the letter.

Founded in 1988 by High Times magazine editor Steven Hager, it was traditionally held each November in Amsterdam but in recent years has moved to the U.S. after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use. Anyone attending must be 21 or older.

So far eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.