Marijuana Facts

Denver’s 4/20 gathering five years after recreational sales: It’s a party

The annual 4/20 marijuana gathering in Denver’s Civic Center Park is nearly here and this year the message is simple: Come for the party, stay for the party. (P.S. Leave your stash and the kids at home.)

Weed has come a long way in Colorado and so has its companion event. April 20 used to be a day that legalization advocates gathered in public to light up and push for an end to marijuana prohibition. But recreational pot sales have been legal in Colorado since 2014. They’re legal in nine other states, with more than 20 other states allowing for medical use.

For Euflora, the dispensary chain hosting this year’s event, dubbed the FlyHi 4:20 Festival, it’s not about protest, it’s about celebrating how far marijuana and its cannabis cousin hemp have come in Colorado. From illicit drug to active ingredient in a federally approved medicine.

“It’s a celebration of cannabis,” Euflora marketing director Lindsay Hanna said Friday. “The celebration of the legalization of recreational marijuana and celebrating the plant and everything that comes with it.”

Keeping in line with last year — when Euflora won the right to be the first marijuana company to host 4/20 in Civic Center — it promises to be slick operation. Live music will start at 10 a.m. with rappers Jermaine Dupri and T.I. headlining the main stage. Cannabis industry and industry-related companies, craft goods makers and apparel brands will populate vendors’ booths. Nine food trucks will be there along with a  food tent. There will even be beer and wine for sale, Hanna said.

Euflora and the Marijuana Industry Group are urging people to leave their weed at home. Denver police ticketed 56 people across the city for illegal public consumption of marijuana last April 20.

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“Consuming cannabis in public is illegal and just because this is a 4/20 festival does not mean that those laws go away,” Hanna said.

While the free event is all-ages, Hanna hopes people will leave children under 18 at home. Given the forecasts call for a warm day, she also urges attendees to bring reusable water bottles. Euflora is anticipating as many as 75,000 people will show up.

Miguel Lopez will be in the park at 4:20 p.m. Saturday, as he says he has been every year since he was 16 years old. Lopez was the permit holder for the 4/20 rally from 2008 until 2018, when he received a three-year permit ban and a rebuke from city officials and Euflora co-founder Pepe Breton after the 2017 event left the park strewn with trash amid other issues.

For Lopez, a long-time political activist, the 4/20 rally has its roots in racial justice. He points out that minority people were disproportionately targeted by law enforcement when marijuana was illegal, something city officials acknowledged when launching efforts to expunge the records of low-level offenders last year.  He will be attending the event in support of humanity, he said, not large businesses or marijuana lobbying groups that he says now serve to keep minorities out of the industry.

“We are still here,” Lopez said. “As Native Americans, we have endured the rugged Rocky Mountains, we’ve endured the racial hatred. We are the creators and the founders of the 4/20 rally here.”