| DENVER, April 20
DENVER, April 20 Thousands of marijuana
enthusiasts gathered in Denver on Saturday for an annual weekend
celebration of cannabis, the first such assemblage since
Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of pot last fall.
A number of activities are being held around Colorado on
April 20 - "4/20" is synonymous with marijuana within the drug
culture - including classes on hashish making, cooking with
cannabis and pot cultivation, along with several music concerts.
The event expected to draw the largest crowd is a pot
smokeout Saturday afternoon at a downtown Denver park near the
Organizer Miguel Lopez said the pot party is the "world's
largest 4/20 rally," and that it will be bigger than in past
years because of the state's legalization of small amounts of
marijuana for use by adults.
"We had 60,000 people here last year and expect 75,000 to
80,000 this year," Lopez told Reuters.
Lopez said the rally is part of a "grassroots" effort to
compel the federal government - which still lists marijuana as
an illegal narcotic - to stop prosecuting pot users.
Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he could not say
if crowds will be as large as organizers claim, but police will
be out in full force.
"Our main concern is protecting public safety. It is still
illegal to consume marijuana in public, but our officers will
use their own discretion," on whether to cite individuals for
public consumption, he said.
While police will generally take a hands-off approach, other
critics such as Denver city councilman Charlie Brown, are not
pleased with the pot rally.
Noting that cannabis is still illegal under federal law and
smoking it in public is prohibited in Colorado, Brown said the
smokeout conveys the wrong message about Denver.
"It's an embarrassment to the city," he said. "It's the
marijuana business in action and they're flouting the law."
Brown, who also serves on the Denver tourism board, said
so-called narco-tourism "will not be a highlight of our
But some entrepreneurs, such as Matt Brown - no relation to
the councilman - are trying to cash in on the burgeoning pot
Brown is co-owner of "My 4/20 Tours" which offers getaway
packages, ranging in price from $499 to $849, mainly for
out-of-state tourists. The company does not provide marijuana to
its customers, but offers tours and transportation to the
various weekend pot events, Brown said.
"Some 25 million Americans smoke marijuana at least once a
year and our intention is to give those who want to an
opportunity to come here and do it responsibly," Brown said.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Mary Wisniewski Editing
by Andre Grenon)