Pubdate: Fri, 20 Apr 2012
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Associated Press
Author: Rema Rahman


DENVER (AP) - The pungent smell of pot that blankets a popular 
quadrangle at the University of Colorado-Boulder every April 20 is 
being replaced by the stench of fish-based fertilizer Friday as 
administrators try to stamp out one of the nation's largest annual 
campus celebrations of marijuana.

After more than 10,000 people - students and non-students - attended 
last year's marijuana rally on Norlin Quadrangle, university 
officials decided this year to apply the stinky fertilizer to the 
quad to deter pot-smokers. They're also closing the campus Friday to 
all unauthorized visitors and offering a free campus concert by 
Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean timed to coincide with the 
traditional 4:20 p.m. pot gathering. His contract bars him from 
making any direct references to marijuana, other drugs or to 4/20.

The measures pit Colorado's flagship university, which has tired of 
its reputation as a top party school, against thousands who have 
assembled, flash mob-style, each year to demand marijuana's 
legalization or simply to have a good time.

With more than 30,000 students, Colorado was named the nation's top 
party school in 2011 by Playboy magazine. The campus also repeatedly 
ranks among the top schools for marijuana use, according to a "Reefer 
Madness" list conducted by The Princeton Review.

"We don't consider this a protest. We consider this people smoking 
pot in the sunshine," said university spokesman Bronson Hilliard. 
"This is a gathering of people engaging in an illegal activity."

"I do not see any justification for the university shutting it down," 
said student organizer Daniel Ellis Schwartz, who contends the 
measures infringe on First Amendment rights to protest. Schwartz, a 
physics major, and other supporters of the 4/20 smoke out plan to 
move it to a nearby park off-campus. He suggests there also will be 
some form of off-campus protest against the measures.

"We do have to play a game of chess with the authorities," Schwartz said.

Cynthia Hardey, who works in the library on the quad, thinks the 
university is overreacting and said the event would go by largely 
unnoticed if not for the crackdown.

"You know, I go home, they got the pot in the air, big deal. Next day 
everything is forgotten. But now they're making a big thing about it, 
and this is going down in history. So we're having police state 
tactics here for what? Because a couple of people want to protest the 
laws, these pot laws? I don't get it," said Hardey, a library technician.

Many students at the University of Colorado and other campuses across 
the country have long observed 4/20. The counterculture observation 
is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to 
New York's Greenwich Village.

In Austin, Texas, country music legend Willie Nelson, who's open 
about his marijuana use, was expected to help unveil an 8-foot statue 
of himself in downtown Austin at 4:20 p.m. local time on Friday.

The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, 
though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread 
among California pot users in the 1960s and spread nationwide among 
followers of the Grateful Dead.

Like most counterculture slang, theories abound on its origin. Some 
say it was once police code in Southern California to denote 
marijuana use (probably an urban legend). It was a title number for a 
2003 California bill about medical marijuana, an irony fully intended.

Others trace it to a group of California teenagers who would meet at 
4:20 p.m. to search for weed (a theory as elusive as the outdoor 
cannabis crop they were seeking). Yet the code stuck for obvious 
reasons: Authorities and nosy parents didn't know what it meant.

In Colorado, recent 4/20 observations have blossomed alongside the 
state's medical marijuana industry. Approved by Colorado voters in 
2000, medical marijuana boomed after federal authorities signaled in 
2009 they would pursue higher-level drug crimes. All marijuana is 
illegal under federal law, though Colorado voters this November will 
consider a ballot measure to legalize it for recreational use by 
adults over 21.

A larger rally is planned for Denver near the state capitol on Friday 
and Saturday. Police have suggested they'll be taking a hands-off 
approach to the gathering, which could draw tens of thousands of 
people, said chief organizer Miguel Lopez.

Others are rebelling against the gatherings.

In Colorado, several high schools across the state are hosting 
drug-free events on Friday. The University of Colorado's student 
government supports the university's anti-4/20 actions this year. And 
other Colorado students created a Facebook campaign urging their 
colleagues to wear formal clothing to school on Friday to repudiate 
the party-school reputation.

Campus police officers will be stationed at school entrances, 
allowing in only those with university IDs or permission. Anyone on 
campus without proper ID could be ticketed for trespassing, which 
carries a maximum $750 fine and up to six months in jail, said campus 
police spokesman Ryan Huff.

Anyone caught smoking on campus will be ticketed, just as they would 
any other day, Huff said. That includes anyone with a medical 
marijuana card, which requires that consumption be in private.

As ground crews applied the fertilizer early Friday, numbers were put 
up on light poles around the quad to help police keep track of 
potential problems. Signs were also posted warning trespassers they 
will be prosecuted.

Philosophy major Julian Hirschbaum said it smelled like "somebody cut 
up a bunch of fish" and watered it.

"It's pretty gross," he said.

Off campus, Boulder police could also issue tickets for people 
smoking pot, and the Colorado State Patrol will be watching for any 
motorists under the influence, Huff said.

"This is not about the war on drugs. It isn't even about marijuana 
per se," insisted Hilliard, the university spokesman. "Ten thousand 
to 12,000 (people) doing anything in the academic heart of the campus 
would be a problem."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom