April 20 came and went with a thud in most of the country, but in Colorado it was marijuana… marijuana everywhere.
Hoards of users, industry insiders, and civil libertarians gathered in a Denver park on Easter Sunday to celebrate 4/20, the annual stoners’ holiday. They came from across the country to raise bowls, blunts, and joints in one of the two states where doing so is legal.
At the same time, Denver hosted the fourth annual High Times Cannabis Cup over the weekend. The event brought thousands more weed enthusiasts to the Mile High City.
At 4:20 p.m., tens of thousands of revelers lit up in view of the state capitol. The moment marked the first time 420 has been celebrated legally, in the open, since it entered stoner lingo 40 years ago.
“It feels good not to be persecuted anymore,” said Joe Garramone, who lit a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played on the lawn.
Elsewhere, the holiday didn’t make much of an impression. In many places, traditional events were cancelled or simply didn’t happen because of the Easter holiday.
That may be one reason, among others, why so many people came to Denver from out of state. Garrmone and his family came from Hawaii.
“I still feel a little like a teenager,” he said.
But celebrations were still plentiful, especially in states with legal or semi-legal marijuana. In Washington, thousands gathered in events across Seattle, including a sampling hosted by Dope Magazine.
In New Jersey, a small crowd gathered at the capitol to push for legalization or decriminalization. Gov. Chris Christie has said he won’t allow any new cannabis reforms, and protesters urged him to change his mind.
Thousands gathered on Hippie Hill in San Francisco, the traditional spot for 420 celebrations. Vendors sold edibles under canopies – so many, apparently, that business was slow at all of them.
San Francisco police said they would crack down on minor crimes: drug sales, illegal parking, underage drinking, open alcohol containers, and camping. Nonetheless, there were relatively few arrests. At least eight people face potential felony charges, police said.
Some officials did their best to prevent 4/20. The University of Colorado closed its Boulder campus to everyone but students, staff, and faculty throughout the day. There were no arrests, so school administrators said the policy was working.
In Denver, the day had a distinctly different feel from years past. Things were tighter, more official, and more commercial. There was more police presence, more merchandise for sale, and much heavier security. Last year’s event ended with a shooting that injured three.
Bob Glisson, 27, a Denver resident, had attended three previous 4/20 celebrations in the park. He said he was disappointed by the commercialism.
“It’s all about the money now,” Glisson said.