(Updates number of people shot)
By Keith Coffman
DENVER, April 20 Three people were shot and
wounded at a pro-marijuana rally on Saturday, disrupting the
first celebration of a symbolic drug culture holiday since
Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of pot.
A man and a woman were each shot in the leg and a youth was
grazed by a bullet, but the wounds were not life-threatening,
Denver police said on Twitter. Officers were looking for two
suspects in the shootings, which occurred as the rally was
"I heard five or six gunshots in quick succession," said
Cole Wagenknecht, 27, who attended the rally at a downtown park
near the State Capitol. "That's why I knew it wasn't fireworks.
Then everybody started to scatter and ran toward one end of the
The rally was one of a number of marijuana-related
activities, including classes on hashish making and cooking with
cannabis, held in Colorado on April 20 - within the drug
culture, "4/20" and "420" are synonymous with marijuana use.
The shootings came at a sensitive time for Colorado
marijuana activists, who are closely watching proposals from
state lawmakers on the rules that will govern the sale of small
amounts of pot to people 21 and older. In November, voters in
Colorado and Washington state became the first in the country to
approve recreational use of marijuana.
The federal government considers marijuana an illegal and
dangerous narcotic. U.S. officials have said they are
considering how to respond to the legalization moves.
Miguel Lopez, the organizer of the Denver rally, said the
event was the "world's largest 4/20 rally," and would be bigger
than in past years because of Colorado's legalization move.
"We had 60,000 people here last year and expect 75,000 to
80,000 this year," Lopez said before the event.
Police said attendance was lower than 80,000 but would not
provide a crowd estimate.
Lopez said the rally was part of a "grassroots" effort to
compel the federal government to stop prosecuting pot users.
Despite the passage of the Colorado legalization measure, it
remains illegal under state law to use marijuana in public.
Before the shootings, police officers were positioned across the
street from the rally.
Denver police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez said she did not
immediately have any details on possible arrests related to
marijuana use at the rally.
Critics such as Denver city councilman Charlie Brown were
not pleased with the pot rally.
"It's an embarrassment to the city," he said before the
shootings. "It's the marijuana business in action and they're
flouting the law."
(Additional reporting by Elaine Porterfield in Seattle, Writing
by Alex Dobuzinskis:; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Paul Simao)