As many as 80,000 people descended on Denver over the weekend to smoke pot and celebrate all things marijuana during a two-day 4/20 celebration that was mostly peaceful, according to local reports.
Prior to the annual marijuana smoke-out — the first since adults could buy marijuana from state-licensed stores — festival organizers clashed with city officials over its primary activity, public consumption of marijuana. City leaders threatened to withhold a permit unless the organizers discouraged open consumption.
Colorado voters legalized adult use of marijuana in 2012, but it’s still illegal to smoke in public.
While more arrests and citations were reported this year than last — 130, with 22 people going to jail, according to Denver Police, compared to just five citations last year for possession — police generally followed their typical strategy of overlooking all but the most blatant scofflaws.
One woman who was cited $150 for public consumption told the Denver Post that cops told her next time she should “go into a crowd where we can’t pick you out.”
In addition, there were 30 responses for medical help, with 18 people taken to area hospitals and four to detox, according to Denver’s Fox 31.
It was a markedly different scene from last year, when three people were shot during a dispute between rival gang members. This year, attendees were patted down and had their bags searched before entering a fenced area near the state capitol building.
High Times magazine also held its annual Cannabis Cup competition in Denver, and musical acts from Leftover Salmon to Method Man performed in area venues, including at Red Rocks, which, earlier in the day hosted a Easter sunrise service. In all, there were 46 separate pot-related events over the weekend.
Many dispensaries, bus services and other vendors reported that many people who attended the event were from other states.
“It’s kind of like being a part of history,” Maria Sabina told Fox 31 about her decision to travel to Denver from her home in Missouri
“I used to want to go to Amsterdam,” she said. “Now I don’t have to.”
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