Up is down. White is black. It looks a little like opposite day as the Cannabis Cup in Las Vegas last weekend got by without one seemingly crucial ingredient: cannabis.

The first ever High Times Cannabis Cup in Sin City took place on March 4 and 5 without what many people would call the main attraction of such an event. High Times spokesperson Joe Brezny told the Associated Press about the changes to the festival, saying, “We’ve removed the marijuana. There will be no smoking area, no edibles competition, no cannabis topicals or lotions.”

Okay. So, what was there instead? In the words of the AP, “music, T-shirts and souvenirs.” Cool. How much for all that? $65 per day or $110 for two or $420 for the “Super VIP Weekend” pass, plus parking, taxes, fees.

What, exactly, is going on here? Don’t ask High Times. We searched their website and found only one remark regarding whether or not you could imbibe cannabis at the Las Vegas Cup. It doesn’t say anything one way or another about whether you can smoke on festival grounds on the Vegas Cup webpage, but on a general Cannabis Cup FAQ you can find this misleading (probably just not updated) info: “

On a general FAQ page was the phrase: “Our Las Vegas Cup will be help at the TKTK Reservation, where weed is legal.”

This has turned out to not only be incorrect. It also might be the source of all the Cannabis Cup Las Vegas’s problems. A U.S. Attorney from the Department of Justice informed the leaders in a letter last month that basically all the fun stuff planned for the Cannabis Cup was a no-no under federal law, saying that:

“Our office is aware of an upcoming event scheduled take place on the Moapa Indian Reservation on March 4-5, 2017… As you are aware, the Moapa indian Reservation is ‘Indian Country’ as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1151. The transport, possession, use and distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana, is prohibited under 21 U.S.C. § 841.”

So, maybe the festival could have planned their location a little smarter, like for instance not on federal land. But then maybe they didn’t know that we’d have a different administration in the White House by the time the festival rolled around.

The previous administration, under Obama, produced the Cole Memorandum, a dope little memo that directed federal agencies not to direct their resources to busting state-authorized marijuana business practices. This was never a change in law, just a change in attitude. And maybe that attitude is on the wane under the new administration.

The DOJ’s letter to the Moapa tribe said that that the DOJ was informed that the tribe “is under the impression that the so-called ‘Cole Memorandum’… permit[s] marijuana use, possession and distribution on tribal lands when the state law also permits it. Unfortunately, that is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on the issue.”

Yikes! “The memoranda are not laws or regulations,” the letter goes on, “and they do not create any rights that may be relied upon by any person. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. [underline theirs]”

So, either the DOJ has reversed their attitude on the Cole Memo or High Times shouldn’t have taken for granted that they could transport and smoke weed on federal land, or maybe a little bit of both. Either way, T-shirts and souvenirs are cool enough to hang a weekend on, right?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons