Denver girds for "world's largest" marijuana rally

Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:27pm EDT
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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered in Denver on Saturday for an annual weekend celebration of cannabis, the first such assemblage since Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of pot last fall.

A number of activities are being held around Colorado on April 20 - "4/20" is synonymous with marijuana within the drug culture - including classes on hashish making, cooking with cannabis and pot cultivation, along with several music concerts.

The event expected to draw the largest crowd is a pot smokeout Saturday afternoon at a downtown Denver park near the state capitol.

Organizer Miguel Lopez said the pot party is the "world's largest 4/20 rally," and that it will be bigger than in past years because of the state's legalization of small amounts of marijuana for use by adults.

"We had 60,000 people here last year and expect 75,000 to 80,000 this year," Lopez told Reuters.

Lopez said the rally is part of a "grassroots" effort to compel the federal government - which still lists marijuana as an illegal narcotic - to stop prosecuting pot users.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he could not say if crowds will be as large as organizers claim, but police will be out in full force.

"Our main concern is protecting public safety. It is still illegal to consume marijuana in public, but our officers will use their own discretion," on whether to cite individuals for public consumption, he said.   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