Organizer says participants should be able to smoke pot during 4/20 Rally at Civic Center Park

Group likens festival to Taste, Cinco de Mayo

DENVER - Organizers of Denver’s 420 Rally say the expensive “festival permit” that is required for this year’s event should allow them to regulate the use of the now legal substance in the confines of Civic Center Park.

“It should be regulated just like alcohol,” said Miguel Lopez.

Lopez notes that the city allows alcohol to be sold and consumed in the park during events like the Taste of Colorado and Cinco de Mayo.

But city officials say that’s comparing apples to oranges.

“It’s not illegal to purchase or consume alcohol,” said Jeff Green. “It is against state law to consume marijuana in public.”

Lopez bristles at the different treatment and makes an analogy to civil rights.

“As people were integrating schools during the 60s and 70s, we’re now integrating marijuana,” he said. “And there are people who are just afraid of these new things and changes and they just want to stand in the doorway of integration.”

Last month, Lopez’ attorney, Robert Corry, sent a letter to the Denver City Attorney regarding permission for adult recreational marijuana consumption in Civic Center Park.

Corry wrote that in America, “A man’s home is his castle.”

He said that “on 4/20, Denver’s Civic Center Park is Our ‘Castle.’  As the permit holder for Civic Center Park on April 19-20, 2014, and consequently the entity that ‘occupies or controls’ this property, my clients and I respectfully advise the City and County of Denver that we will be ‘otherwise regulating’ the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale and transportation of marijuana by adults age 21+, and by prohibiting the ‘sale’ and ‘growing’ of marijuana in the permitted area of  Civic Center Park… during the permitted periods for the annual 420 Rally.”

Later in the letter, Corry wrote (we) “have decided to prohibit the ‘sale’ and ‘growing’ of marijuana during the rally, but to allow all of the other constitutionally-protected activities on the property we occupy and control.”

On March 3, Corry sent another letter rescinding the previous letter in its entirety.

The second letter stated that organizers and participants will conduct themselves “in identical fashion to previous years’ events.”

City Attorney D. Scott Martinez sent a letter back to Corry asking him to clarify what he meant by the phrase identical fashion to previous years’.

“Do you mean to say that the organizers will make no attempt to control the unlawful public consumption of marijuana by attendees at the 2014 event,” Martinez asked.

With the permit in jeopardy, Corry wrote back to the city attorney on March 5, clarifying that organizers will not be encouraging anyone to violate the law.

“Instead, we will make sure that all attendees are made aware that current law prohibits the consumption of marijuana in public,” Corry wrote back.

Martinez sent a final letter back to Corry telling him that the City Attorney’s office has advised the Executive Director Parks and Recreation to resume discussions with Mr. Lopez.

Green said that if the organizers meet the requirements, they will likely be issued a permit later this month.

Among the requirements -- a formal plan on how they will operate the site and provide security for the two day event.  And an estimate on how many people will attend so arrangements can be made for an adequate number of porta-potties.

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