Pubdate: Thu, 18 Apr 2013
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2013 The Associated Press
Author: Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press
Page: 9


Thousands of people are expected to join an unofficial counterculture 
holiday celebrating marijuana in Colorado and Washington this coming 
weekend, including out-of staters and even packaged tours. The events 
and crowds will test the limits of new laws permitting pot use by adults.

More than 50,000 are expected to light up outdoors in Denver's Civic 
Center Park on April 20 to celebrate marijuana legalization. 
Thousands more are headed here for the nation's first open-to-all 
Cannabis Cup, April 20-21, a domestic version of an annual marijuana 
contest and celebration in Amsterdam. Expected guests at the Cannabis 
Cup, a ticketed event taking place inside the Denver Convention 
Center, include Snoop Lion, the new reggae and marijuana-loving 
persona for the rapper better known as Snoop Dogg.

Marijuana activists from New York to San Francisco consider April 20 
a day to celebrate the drug and push for broader legalization. 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.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and its sale without a 
doctor's recommendation isn't allowed yet in Colorado or Washington. 
Neither state allows open and public use of the drug. But authorities 
largely look the other way at public pot-smoking, especially at 
festivals and concerts, and entrepreneurs are finding creative ways 
to capitalize on new marijuana laws. One of them is Matt Brown, 
co-owner of Denver's new "My 420 Tours," which gives traveling pot 
users everything but the drug. Brown has sold 160 tour packages to 
visiting pot smokers for the April 20 weekend. Prices start at $499, 
not including hotel or air.

The tour sends cannabis tour guides to pick up marijuana tourists at 
the airport in limousines, escort them to Cannabis Cup and other 
Denver-area marijuana celebrations and deposit them at a hotel where 
smoking - tobacco or reefer - is permitted on room patios.

Marijuana tourists on Brown's tour can add extra days of touring 
medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial growing operations. A 
cannabis cooking class is another option. Five-day tours run $649 to $849.

Brown, a medical marijuana patient who is new to the travel business, 
says his tours will enable sharing of pot but not selling it. Eighty 
percent of his clients are coming from outside Colorado - meaning 
it's illegal for them to bring marijuana from home. And because 
commercial pot sales in Colorado don't start until January, 
out-of-state visitors can't yet buy pot at Colorado's 500-plus dispensaries.

Despite the legal barriers, Brown said his tours quickly filled to 
capacity and he had to turn away would-be cannabis tourists. He's 
hoping to book future pot-themed weekends if the April 20n weekend does well.

"People are fascinated by what's happening here, and they want to see 
it up close," Brown said. "We want to make sure people don't come 
here, land at the airport, rent a car and drive around stoned all weekend."

The tour group isn't affiliated with the Cannabis Cup, sponsored by 
High Times Magazine, which has run similar events for medical 
marijuana in nine cities. The magazine's editorial director, Dan 
Skye, says this month's U.S. Cannabis Cup was timed for the April 20 weekend.

"4/20 is the national stoner holiday, for lack of a better word," 
Skye said. "It gets bigger every year, and this year, after the 
legalization votes, it's going to be absolutely huge."

The magazine planned to award Snoop Lion with a "lifetime 
achievement" award at a Denver ceremony Friday. A Cypress 
Hill/Slightly Stoopid concert was planned Saturday at the iconic Red 
Rocks Amphitheater just west of Denver. Both events sold out weeks ago.

A few northwest dozen miles of Denver, the University of Colorado in 
Boulder will try to dampen pot celebrations on April 20. The campus 
once held the nation's largest college 4/20 celebration, drawing an 
estimated 10,000 in 2010. The legendary smokeout was cited by Playboy 
magazine when it named Colorado the nation's top party school in 2011
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom