CWAG Roundup

March 26, 2015



Marijuana Webinar: On April 21, 2015, CWAG will convene a panel of experts to discuss the policy and legal implications of the recent USDOJ memo regarding the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in Indian Country. State, tribal and federal officials will address topics such as recommendations the federal government might make to tribes prior to implementing a medical or recreational marijuana program. The panel will also discuss how to address the potential conflicts between tribes and states with differing marijuana policies. This interactive one hour webinar will be available for CLE credit through CWAG's partner, WestLegalEd, from 11:00am -12:00pm Eastern Time. Register Now!

Energy Export Summit: On May 6, 2015, CWAG will be hosting a one day seminar on U.S. policies concerning the export of domestically produced energy to foreign markets. The seminar will be held at the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, DC. The draft agenda can be downloaded here. To register, please download this registration form and email to: [email protected]


Annual Meeting: The Conference of Western Attorneys General and CWAG Chair, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden invite you to attend the CWAG Annual Meeting, July 19-22, 2015, in Wailea, Hawaii at The Grand Wailea Resort. Full meeting and registration details  available here. 


Download the CWAG Annual Meeting draft topic agenda now! Any questions can be directed to CWAG Meeting Planner Janine Knudsen at
[email protected] or 916.704.1057





CWAG Associate Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma announced the dismantling of a criminal operation involving three Oklahoma City metro stores engaging in the selling and distribution of synthetic marijuana. The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office launched an investigation into three Mr. Coolz stores following a number of complaints from citizens regarding the danger of the narcotics allegedly sold at the stores. "Today's actions dismantled an organized criminal operation that was allegedly selling dangerous and illegal drugs to minors and making enormous profits in the process. Synthetic marijuana is a harmful drug that has proven it contributes to criminal behavior in our society. As attorney general, I will continue to take down criminals who seek to prey upon our children and will do all I can to ensure our children and communities are safe from these types of illicit and dangerous drugs," General Pruitt said.


Colorado marijuana is nearly twice as potent as marijuana of past decades, and some modern cannabis packs triple the punch, lab tests reveal for the first time. In the past, levels of THC - the psychoactive chemical that makes people high - were typically well below 10 percent. But in Colorado today, the average THC level is 18.7 percent, and some retail pot contains 30 percent THC or more. "That was higher than expected," said Andy LaFrate, president of Charas Scientific. His Denver lab is licensed by the state and paid by marijuana businesses to measure the THC strength in their products before they go to market. "It's common to see samples in the high 20s." After analyzing more than 600 samples of marijuana provided by certified growers and sellers, LaFrate said he detected little medical value and lots of contamination. He presents those findings to a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, a nonprofit scientific group chartered by Congress.




A new economic study says pending federal regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants threaten to hit Wyoming's coal industry hard in coming years. The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority released a study prepared by the University of Wyoming that predicts federal regulations could force a decline of up to 45 percent in Powder River Basin coal production by 2030. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state. CWAG Attorney General Peter Michael and several other states are pressing a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to require existing power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The case is set for arguments next month in Washington, D.C.


Lummi Nation, which has fished the waters off Cherry Point in Washington for centuries, and Crow Nation, a tribe in Montana sitting on billions of tons of coal, have taken opposite stances on a proposed coal terminal on the Lummis' historic fishing grounds. Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote wrote the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the federal agency to bring the two tribes together to discuss Gateway Pacific Terminal. The Crow letter was in response to request from Lummi Nation to the Corps, asking the agency to reject the terminal because it interfered with the Lummis' ancient fishing practices, which were reinforced in U.S. law by an 1855 treaty. The terminal is currently under environmental review.


The Department of the Interior announced it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The rule will take effect in June. It also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that has prompted an ongoing boom in natural gas production. The rule has been under consideration for more than three years, drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry and environmental groups. The industry fears the regulation could hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that it could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater. The rule relies on an online database used by at least 16 states to track the chemicals used in fracking operations. The website,, was formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011 and allows users to gather well-specific data on tens of thousands of drilling sites across the country.




CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah filed an amicus brief in support of a multi-state appeal of a California law that bans the retail sale of millions of eggs from both in-state and out-of-state producers. Utah asserts that the case is a classic example of a good intentioned state law that attempts to exercise inherent Police Powers, but conflicts with the rights of citizens and regulatory authority in other states. Utah filed the amicus brief because it has an interest in seeing that such important constitutional issues that directly affect it are properly considered and reviewed by the federal judiciary. "California's newly active egg production law is not only detrimental to Utah egg farmers, but also to the most vulnerable of citizens, those below the poverty line, and children who need proper nutrition," said General Reyes.




CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Sorrell of Vermont announced that so far this year, the Attorney General has filed four Assurances of Discontinuance settling violations of Vermont's Prescribed Product Gift Ban and Disclosure Law by prescribed product manufacturers. Each of the four manufacturers agreed to prospective compliance with the law, which bans most gifts to Vermont health care providers and requires manufacturers of prescribed products to disclose expenditures deemed appropriate by the legislature. All violations were self-reported. The four manufacturers paid a total of $137,750.00 to settle the claims. For a copy of the AODs, see the Attorney General's website at: under "Disclosures by Manufacturers of Prescribed Drugs, Biological Products and Medical Devices."




CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii announced that the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that nine online travel companies, including Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity, owe tens of millions of dollars in back taxes to the State of Hawaii for selling Hawaii hotel rooms over the Internet. "This landmark ruling is the first time the Supreme Court ruled that online commerce may be just as subject to pay general excise (GE) taxes as local brick-and mortar businesses," said General Chin. "It is the result of years of effort by the Attorney General's office to collect state taxes from national companies who profited from selling Hawaii hotel rooms." In 2010, the state tax department issued GE tax and TAT assessments against the online travel companies for back taxes starting from 2000. The online travel companies refused to pay, arguing that their revenue generating activities did not occur in the State of Hawaii. In today's ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the very broad reach of Hawaii's general excise tax and stated that general excise tax applies to "virtually any economic activity imaginable."

Chris Coppin

Legal Director

Conference of Western Attorneys General

111 Lomas, NW   Suite 300

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102


505-660-5901 (cell)

505-222-9183 (fax)

[email protected]