Public Smoke-Out Marks Pot Holiday in Colorado
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Public Smoke-Out Marks Pot Holiday in Colorado
Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2014 at 08:17:56 PT
By Sadie Gurman, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Denver -- Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption.
"It feels good not to be persecuted anymore," said Joe Garramone, exultantly smoking a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played on a vast lawn crowded with fellow smokers.The Garramone family came from Hawaii, among the tens of thousands who crowded into various cannabis-themed extravaganzas, from a marijuana industry expo called the Cannabis Cup at a trade center north of downtown to 4/20-themed concerts at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. Acts included Slightly Stoopid and Snoop Dogg.At 4:20 p.m., an enormous plume of marijuana smoke wafted into the sky above downtown Denver as rapper B.o.B. belted out his song "Strange Clouds," with the hook: "And all we do is light it up, all night/All you see is strange clouds/Strange clouds, strange clouds."The Civic Center Park event is the most visible sign of the pot holiday's transformation. It started as a defiant gathering of marijuana activists, but this year the event has an official city permit, is organized by an events management company and featured booths selling funnel cakes and Greek food next to kiosks hawking hemp lollipops and glass pipes.Gavin Beldt, one of the organizers, said in a statement that the event is now a "celebration of legal status for its use in Colorado and our launch of an exciting new experience for those attending."Denver is just one of many cities across the country where 4/20 marijuana celebrations were planned Sunday.In Trenton, N.J., speakers urged a crowd of about 150 gathered at the statehouse to push state and federal lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize marijuana and called on Gov. Chris Christie to do what he can to help medical marijuana patients. Among those at the rally was Jawara McIntosh, the youngest son of noted reggae musician and pro-marijuana activist Peter Tosh.In San Francisco, thousands of revelers gathered at Golden Gate Park's Hippie Hill, which has become the go-to spot for the unsanctioned festival every year.City officials said they would be cracking down on illegal parking, camping, drug sales, underage drinking and open alcohol containers. Hippie Hill was covered in canopies as dozens of people sold pot-laced cookies, brownies and other items. Some vendors told the San Francisco Chronicle that sales were slow because so many people were peddling the treats.Officer Danielle Newman said at least eight people face possible felony charges, but she didn't elaborate on the reasons for their arrests.In Washington, thousands celebrated in the only other state to legalize marijuana. Events included one Saturday sponsored by Seattle's Dope Magazine, with a $99 "judge's pass" available that included 10 marijuana samples.Back in Colorado, University of Colorado officials closed the Boulder campus to all but students, faculty and staff on Sunday to ensure no 4/20 celebrations were held. Spokesman Ryan Huff said the tactic was working, with no arrests reported Sunday.While the weekend was for celebrating, recent events have brought serious scrutiny to Colorado's experiment with legalizing marijuana. Denver police say a man ate marijuana-infused candy before shooting and killing his wife on Monday, an attack dispatchers heard during a 911 call the woman placed. Her death followed that of a college student who traveled from Wyoming to Colorado with friends for spring break, ate more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumped to his death from a hotel balcony in Denver. State lawmakers are debating how to increase safety regulations.Marijuana festivities got off to a slow start on Easter Sunday. But as the clock counted down to 4:20 and crowds surged into Civic Center Park, festivalgoers noted the big changes from previous years  more merchandise and more police.Last year's rally was cut short by a shooting that wounded three. All attendees this year had to pass through security screening, and a heavy police presence ringed the park."I still feel a little like a teenager," Garramone said as he eyed police patrolling the park.Just as striking was the proliferation of merchandise, from cannabis-related gear and T-shirts to $9 roast turkey legs and $4 water bottles."I can just imagine how much money is being made right now," said Tina Crockett, 34, of Wichita.The commercialism disappointed Bob Glisson, 27, who was attending his fourth 4/20 celebration in the park."It's all about the money now," the Denver resident complained.Still, the scene was wonderfully surreal for Bud Long, 49, from Kalamazoo, Mich., who recalled taking part in his first 4/20 protest in 1984."Nationwide, it'll be decriminalized," he predicted on Saturday, the first day of the two-day festival, "and we'll be doing this in every state."Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Terry Chea in San Francisco, Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., and Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report.Source: Associated Press (Wire) Author: Sadie Gurman, Associated PressPublished:  April 21, 2014Copyright: 2014 The Associated PressCannabisNews  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on April 23, 2014 at 11:16:41 PT
Victimless Tragedy 
I am very sorry to read about your friend. We need the Federal law changed to stop this injustice. Some states just won't budge so maybe changing the Federal Law will make them.
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Comment #4 posted by Victimless Tragedy on April 23, 2014 at 09:26:21 PT:
We must end the GESTAPO IN AMERICA
Yesterday morning denver police Tweeted from the dept. Twitter account that they only arrested/cited 32 people at the event, which was the largest gathering of individuals in CO. For the entire weekend of events!! So that says we have come a long way but only in that state... In other parts of the country others are still being victimized as they consume cannabis under natural law, the absurdity of criminalizing someone based on the zip code they choose to live is ridiculous on multiple levels!!! These politicians and there political games playing with people's lives as it's a game is wrong! Someone I know is being persecuted in the state of Virginia for possession of cannabis with intent to distribute it and is facing a total of 39 years for $1200 worth of the medicine??? It's 10 years max for that amount but it's the second charge for him in 4 years and he has never been in trouble for anything except cannabis 4 times total in 36 years... All non violent zero weapons, no indication of distributing it ,yet they are raping and pillaging his family and friends for info on his where abouts all by high profile detectives, investigators, and now the US Marshall service. All for $1200 worth??? What is wrong with this country is this description I just gave of this gentlemans distress and suffering of his family for the system being so harsh towards its own people and the people themselves allowing it to take place. We may have freedoms in great states like Colorado and Washington but for a huge majority of AMERICANS are still facing the wrath of its gov't and where it's priorities are regarding cannabis legalities or lack thereof... We all need to keep fighting for what we the people know is right and that's not to allow this corrupt gov't to enslave us with its unjust laws putting otherwise innocent citizens away in prison at the taxpayers expense and the families that lose their loved ones!! I hope the world understands right from wrong enough to realize that sovereignty of the mind is the key to making a difference, QUESTION EVERYTHING! End the drug war and the Gestapo tactics used against its citizens America!!!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 22, 2014 at 07:58:12 PT
Happy Earth Day
This video by Neil Young was perfect for this day. The song is Mother Earth.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 21, 2014 at 13:27:32 PT
I agree. We aren't there yet. 
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Comment #1 posted by schmeff on April 21, 2014 at 13:19:27 PT
"Only 130 citations or arrests"
ONLY 130 citations or arrests over the weekend's 4/20 celebrations in Denver? Let freedom ring!We've come a long way, but there's still so far to go.
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