High security for Denver Marijuana Celebration

Apr 20, 2013

As tens of thou­sands of peo­ple gather to cel­e­brate and smoke mar­i­juana in Den­ver, police will be out in full force. But it’s not the pot smok­ing they’re con­cerned about at the yearly event, billed as the nation’s largest April 20 cel­e­bra­tion. Instead, police say they’re focused on crowd secu­rity in light of attacks that killed three at the fin­ish line of the Boston Marathon. “We’re aware of the events in Boston,” said Den­ver police spokesman Aaron Kafer, who declined to give specifics about secu­rity mea­sures being taken. “Our mes­sage to the pub­lic is that, if you see some­thing, say some­thing.” Orga­niz­ers say the event — which drew 50,000 peo­ple last year — could bring a record 80,000 this year, since it’s the first cel­e­bra­tion since Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton voted to make pot legal for recre­ational use. Even with the legal­iza­tion, Col­orado law bans open and pub­lic mar­i­juana use. Still, author­i­ties gen­er­ally look the other way. The smoke hangs thick over a park at the base of the state Capi­tol, and live music keeps the crowd enter­tained well past the moment of group smok­ing at 4:20 p.m. Group smoke-outs are also planned Sat­ur­day from New York to San Fran­cisco. The ori­gins of the num­ber “420″ as a code for pot are murky, but the drug’s users have for decades marked the date 4/20 as a day to use pot together. Denver’s cel­e­bra­tion this year also fea­tures the nation’s first open-to-all Cannabis Cup, a mar­i­juana com­pe­ti­tion pat­terned after one held in Ams­ter­dam. Sim­i­lar to a beer or wine fes­ti­val, pot grow­ers com­pete for awards for taste, appear­ance and potency of their weed. Denver’s event, spon­sored by High Times mag­a­zine, has sold out more than 5,000 tick­ets. Snoop Lion, the new reg­gae– and marijuana-loving per­sona for the rap­per bet­ter known as Snoop Dogg, will receive a “Life­time Achieve­ment Award” from High Times. And the hip-hop group Cypress Hill was set to per­form a sold-out con­cert Sat­ur­day evening in Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphithe­atre. The cel­e­bra­tion should be espe­cially buoy­ant this year, orga­nizer Miguel Lopez said, because it marks the first obser­va­tion since Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton voted to defy fed­eral drug law and declare pot OK for adults over 21. Both states are still wait­ing for a fed­eral response to the votes and are work­ing on set­ting up com­mer­cial pot sales, which are still lim­ited to peo­ple with cer­tain med­ical con­di­tions. In the mean­time, pot users are free to share and use the drug in small amounts. Lopez said the hol­i­day is more than an excuse to get high — it’s also a polit­i­cal state­ment by peo­ple who want to see the end of mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion. “You don’t have to smoke weed to go to 4/20 ral­lies. You don’t have to be gay to go to a Pride fes­ti­val. You don’t have to be Mex­i­can to cel­e­brate Cinco de Mayo,” Lopez said. “That’s what this is. It’s a cel­e­bra­tion, it’s a state­ment about jus­tice and free­dom and this move­ment.” Colorado’s week­end cel­e­bra­tions drew plenty of mar­i­juana activists from out of state. “Never have I ever imag­ined I could do this on Amer­i­can soil,” said Eddie Ramirez, an Austin, Texas, pot user who attended a “420 Happy Hour” Fri­day at a down­town Den­ver hotel. “Being a smoker my whole life, this has been on my bucket list — go scuba div­ing, go deep-sea fish­ing and go to the Cannabis Cup.” One place pot-smoking won’t be as evi­dent this year is the Uni­ver­sity of Col­orado in Boul­der. The school once was home to the nation’s largest group smoke-out on April 20. More than 10,000 peo­ple showed up in 2010, and in 2011 Play­boy mag­a­zine cited the cel­e­bra­tion and named the cam­pus the nation’s No. 1 party school. Last year, school offi­cials closed the site of the party, Nor­lin Quad, on April 20. They planned to rope off the area again this year. Lopez con­ceded that many don’t appre­ci­ate the April 20 smoke-outs. But he insisted they at least force mar­i­juana crit­ics to talk about the drug and con­sider its legal sta­tus. “Not every­body likes every­thing in Amer­ica. That’s one of the great things, that we can express our­selves,” Lopez said. Source: The Asso­ci­ated Press Link: http://​www​.usato​day​.com/​s​t​o​r​y​/​n​e​w​s​/​n​a​t​i​o​n​/​2​0​1​3​/​0​4​/​2​0​/​d​e​n​v​e​r​-​p​o​t​-​h​o​l​i​d​a​y​/​2​0​9​8​7​55/

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