Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2014 The Denver Post Corp
Authors: John Ingold, Matt Miller and Kate Gibbons
Page: 1A
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


Tens of Thousands Flock to Events With No Major Problems

As the sun rose at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Sunday, David Garcia- 
high on the Holy Spirit as well as just plain high - contemplated the 
unusual convergence of prayer and pot in Colorado this year. "It's a 
beautiful sight," Garcia said. He said he was raised Christian and 
said he smoked marijuana before going to the annual sunrise service. 
"Man didn't create weed. God created weed."

Sunday was the first time in 11 years that Easter and the day 
marijuana enthusiasts call 4/20 fell on the same day. And perhaps the 
most whipsaw 14 hours in Red Rocks history - churchgoers singing 
"Amazing Grace" in the morning, Snoop Dogg singing "Smoke the Weed" 
in the evening-was a fitting peculiarity for a day when a green sheen 
spread across Denver like never before.

Tens of thousands of people browsed, danced, hula-hooped and puffed 
at the annual 4/20 rally in Civic Center, putting up a collective 
smoke cloud at 4:20p.m. that quickly dissipated in the breeze. Tens 
of thousands more packed into the High Times Cannabis Cup, a 
marijuana convention of sorts, at the Denver Mart north of downtown. 
Others attended one of dozens of marijuana-themed concerts, comedy 
shows, trade shows, product launches and other events spread 
throughout the city.

"People around the world are looking at Denver on this day that sense 
has come to drug policy," said Leftover Salmon band member Vince 
Herman, sitting in the basement of Denver Kush Club just before 
taking the stage at 4:20 p.m. "I feel really glad that we can have a 
role celebrating in the streets."

On the whole, authorities reported no major problems.

By late afternoon, Denver police had issued 47 citations for public 
marijuana consumption at the downtown rally, as well as 16 other 
arrests or citations for other reasons. Denver Health Medical Center 
paramedics had treated 14 people, including three who were taken to 
detox. The hospital's emergency room had treated about a half-dozen 
people, most of whom had passed out through a combination of sun and 
substance use.

Brittany Gibbs caught one of the police citations Sunday when she lit 
up her chillum pipe on the outskirts of the rally just before police 
officers on bicycles rode by. They handed her a $150 ticket for 
public marijuana consumption.

"They said, 'Go into a crowd where we can't pick you out,' " Gibbs said.

The citations - only five were issued last year - were part of an 
effort this year by officers to remind festival-goers that, while 
marijuana use and possession is now legal for adults, smoking in 
public is not. And they came at perhaps the most professionally 
produced 4/20 the city has ever seen.

Gone was the come-as-you-like informality of past years. This year's 
rally had fences around Civic Center, designated entry points with 
patdowns and bag checks, street closures, dozens of vendor booths - 
from hemp energy drinks to festival favorites like the turkey leg guy 
- - and two stages for musical performances. After a shooting marred 
last year's rally, armed security guards this year walked through the 
crowd. At midafternoon, the air even smelled slightly less perfumed 
with pot than in years past.

Earlier Sunday, Jessica Holland hula-hooped with a friend to the side 
of the main music stage. Holland said she likely wouldn't smoke up at 
the rally - partly because of the police presence and partly because 
she needed to leave the rally early to spend Easter with her family.

"It was actually easier to smoke outside before it was legal," she 
said. "The police are watching much more now."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom