Two people shot at pro-marijuana rally in Denver

Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:45pm EDT
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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Two 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, but those 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 winding down.

"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 park."

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.   Continued...

A participant at the 4/20 marijuana holiday buys a hat depicting marijuana plants in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking