Denver Gears Up for Record 4/20 Extraganza

By Chrisanne Grise 04/19/13

Saturday's 4/20 rally—the first since Colorado legalized weed—could draw tens of thousands of revelers.

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Weed-lovers have a lot to celebrate this year
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Denver law enforcement is taking extra precautions this year in gearing up for the city’s first 4/20 celebration since the state legalized weed. The city's annual “420 Rally” on Saturday is expected to draw tens of thousands, far exceeding past attendance figures. Pro-pot revelers have more than usual to celebrate this year: Not only did Amendment 64 pass in the fall, legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, but the majority of the country now favors legalization (51%, according to the latest survey). Since organizers are expecting such a big crowd, Saturday's activities—which include concerts, exhibitions, tours and events—will now also spill over into Sunday.

Smoking pot in public is still illegal in Colorado, but authorities say the increased police presence is mainly there to protect participants, not to arrest them. "Our biggest goal is to ensure everyone is safe in this environment," says Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson. "We'll have the necessary number of officers to ensure the safety of the public." Cops have generally kept a low profile during previous years’ rallies; still, last year they arrested 54 people, 49 of them for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. "We will exercise our discretion in the enforcement of public consumption," says Jackson. A spokeswoman for Denver Health Medical Center says the hospital is not expecting any influx. But one of the state’s biggest drug treatment providers, Arapahoe House, is urging parents to talk to kids about the event in advance. "Parents may think their kids are immune to the landscape, but it's a risk that shouldn't be ignored," says Arapahoe House CEO Art Schut. "They are going to be curious."

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.