White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last week that the public can expect to see “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws under President Donald Trump. Spicer indicated that Trump supports medical marijuana, which is now legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C., but he said recreational marijuana use is “a very, very different subject.”
Adults over 21 are currently allowed to buy and use weed for non-medical purposes in four states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, plus Washington, D.C. Citizens in four other states — California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine — voted in the November election to enact similar laws, but those recreational markets aren’t yet up and running.
Spicer compared marijuana legalization to the opioid epidemic and said “the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people” to use the drug. He didn’t specify how the feds might crack down, and referred a follow-up question asking for details to the Department of Justice. The DOJ hasn’t issued any clarification yet, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and the DEA technically has the authority to arrest state-sanctioned pot vendors.
The High Times Cannabis Cup, one of the largest “marijuana festivals” in the world, is scheduled for this weekend on tribal land outside Las Vegas. But the whole shebang is facing a possible shutdown if marijuana is present, according to a letter sent by federal officials earlier this month.
High Times representatives claimed they’re still expecting a “great event,” reports TMZ, but want to comply with the Feds to help the marijuana industry “continue to gain legitimacy and social acceptance,” presumably by accepting prohibition, even in a legal state.
The letter, to the Moapa Paiute Tribe from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, who is based in Las Vegas, reminds the tribe that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law, reports Jenny Kane of the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The cannabis trade show and festival, planned for March 4-5, would violate that federal law, according to the letter.
“I am informed that the tribal council is moving forward with the planned marijuana event referred to me 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,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”
That is despite the fact that the federal Department of Justice in December 2014 told U.S. Attorneys not to prevent Native American tribes from growing or selling marijuana on their sovereign lands, even in states where cannabis is illegal. This appears to be yet another instance in which the Trump Administration appears intent on rolling back gains made under the Obama Administration.
The Cole Memorandum, released by then-Deputy Atty. Gen. James Cole in 2011, provided guidance to federal officials in states that who legalized marijuana in some form. The memo advises U.S. Attorneys to take into account local laws when looking at cannabis enforcement, which allowed them to give lower priority to marijuana “crimes.”
The December 2014 memo, known as the Guidance Memorandum, indicated that tribal governments and U.S. Attorneys could consult government-to-government over marijuana issues.
“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 claims in the letter.
The tribe is trying to resolve the conflict with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to tribal Chairman Darren Daboda. The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed the letter, but declined further comment.
If federal officials interfere with the Cannabis Cup, it would be one of the first signs that the Trump White House is indeed going to follow through on the threats from Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to crack down on recreational marijuana in states where it is legal
Vaguely threatening statements are all that have been issued so far, with no clear plan of action from the new administration, in keeping with its approach on many other issues.
“To us, we’re looking at it as utilizing our sovereignty,” Daboda said. “As long as (marijuana) is not visible, we’re told it will be OK.”
Rapper Ludacis is set to headline this year’s Cannabis Cup. The event is also supposed to feature pairings of edible cannabis products, spa treatments with marijuana infused oils, and vendors marketing their latest marijuana-centric products, according to the High Times website.
“The tribe is promoting it as a vendors’ crafts, food and concert event,” Daboda said. “We’re not promoting the distributor or selling (marijuana).”
The event is set to be held in a fenced-in area, and only ticket holders 21 and older will be allowed to attend. Hired security will patrol the festival, and tribal law enforcement will be available if backup is needed.
Even if the Cannabis Cup comes off without a hitch, the tribe is now uncertain if it will have any more involvement with the cannabis industry, because the Trump Administration recently suggested it would exercise “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana prohibition.
“It’s very simple,” promoter Mike “Chili” Houlihan of the Las Vegas Hemp Festival told Toke Signals Wednesday evening. “I don’t care how long you have been producing events or how big you think you are, you dont come to Las vegas and disrespect.
“This is a whole different monster; this town was built for one reason,” Chili said, “Dont ever underestimate it. Don’t ever disrespect it and you better make sure you come with your game on. ”
If Trump does decide to go after legal weed, the blowback could be huge. A national poll released last week by Quinnipiac University found that 71 percent of voters believe the government should not enforce federal marijuana laws against states that have voted to legalize the drug.
Marijuana legalization advocates argue that shutting down the recreational markets would put thousands of people out of work. As noted by Forbes, a recent survey by a marijuana industry trade publication found that about 100,000-150,000 people have jobs that directly involve legal weed, and thousands of electricians, plumbers, real estate brokers, and others who provide ancillary services have benefited.
“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), “they will be taking billions of dollars away from state-sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels.”
I count myself among those that was hopeful yet all along knowing that all governments are bullshit all the puppet show every does is lie. Trump administration’ I think it’s been coined best with this “Orange is the new Black” all that’s changed is the hair and skin tone the rest is all a bullshit front. The left and right wing are of the same bird flying to the same place… FREEDUMB!