DENVER - The Colorado Symphony says a series of marijuana-themed fundraising concerts will be invitation only in an attempt to address concerns that audiences were going to break the law by smoking weed in public.
In a statement Tuesday, the symphony also said it was removing information about the three events scheduled to start later this month from its website and refunding tickets purchased already. The "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series" events at Denver's Space Gallery will now be open to a list of VIP guests by invitation.
After the symphony announced the concerts in April, the Denver city attorney warned the organization in a letter that they could violate laws against public marijuana consumption.
"We provide you with this letter to dissuade you from hosting the event; however, if you go forward, we will exercise any and all options available to the City of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners, event organizers responsible for any violations of law. We are also ready to hold individual attendees responsible for any violations of City ordinances or state law prohibiting public consumption of marijuana," states the letter signed by Stacie Louks, director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.
Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use after state voters passed a ballot measure, Amendment 64, in 2012. Under the law, people 21 and older can use the drug in private, possess up to 1 ounce of pot and grow up to six marijuana plants.
The city's letter, however, reminds Colorado Symphony CEO/Co-Chair Jerome H. Kern that Amendment 64's "immunity from prosecution under state and local laws granted for adult possession and consumption does not extend to smoking 'openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.'"
The symphony said its new rules in the wake of the warning were worked out after consultation with the city attorney.
The city's legal warnings have marijuana advocates fuming.
"Don't they have anything better to do?" asked Rob Corry, an attorney who represents the marijuana industry. He said the city is going out of its way to put a kibosh on the cannabis centered event.
"You still have to buy a ticket. It is still a private event. And every adult that comes into the event consents to the purpose of that event," Corry said.