Colorado's 4/20 Rally: Is the Rebellion Over?
Marijuana at Denver's Civic Center 4/20 Rally
By TriniView Reporters
Event Date: April 19 - 20, 2014
Posted: June 30, 2014
The Waldos might be surprised to see the present day outcome of their innocently coined '4/20'.
See, once upon a time, 4/20 was the phrase representing an ever-expanding subculture spanning decades. Indeed, it became symbolic of an underground movement locked on to the struggle to establish marijuana as both recreational and healing, a naturopathic medicine, not the scary bogey-monster depicted by government agencies, classified similarly with the synthetics of our generation. Stoners rebuked the attempt to label them as drug addled victims who needed "protection" which came in the form of avidly enforced laws by creating a unique festival dedicated, not just to the recreational use of the herb, but also to the marketing of its diverse applications in sustainable fields. The event itself was their expression of resistance and became symbolic of marijuana based anti-establishment mores. Despite the growls of circling law enforcement officials, the festival soldiered on.
Patron of the 4/20 Rally enjoys a joint
Then in 2012, Amendment 64 was passed and Colorado became the first state to end the prohibition against marijuana. In so doing, whether by accident or design, it became the pilot programme for the rest of the country (and indeed, the world) to observe. Therefore, the 4/20 festival of 2014 held particular significance to the watching world. Now that marijuana is legal, would the festival still carry the same significance and in so doing, hold its numbers similar to previous years? This year would prove whether legalization could shift or negate what has become a cultural mainstay in the Denver area.
Cross-section of participants at the 4/20 Rally
The faithful converged and the numbers remained steady. Enthusiasts from across North America and some even from as far as the West Indies put in an appearance. The festival, held this year at the Civic Center park area in downtown Denver has held its own quite admirably.
Models don hemp wear at the High Noon Hemp Fashion Show segment
Event organizer Miguel Lopez took to the amphitheatre stage on April 19th to open the official ceremonies, beginning with the High Noon Hemp Fashion Show. Local designs included hemp bikinis much to the delight of the spring time crowd. A Native American blessing was thereafter conferred via an opening ceremony with spectators and participants alike turning as one to the west, to the north, to the east and then to the south accompanied by prayer chants and drums.
Popular rapper Wyclef Jean is carried by the 4/20 crowd
Any doubt that the festival is gaining in mainstream acceptance was eliminated when Mike Dunafon, Mayor of Glendale, a suburb just east of downtown Denver and longstanding marijuana legalization advocate was later introduced by Mr. Lopez. Dunafon also used his time on the podium to campaign in his bid to become next Governor of Colorado. DJ's, rappers and other musicians entertained the crowds throughout the two days on a second stage constructed for the event. Denver's own Bass Physics, Lion I and internationally renowned Wyclef Jean were some of the favorites on the first day. Crowds, some dressed in their identifying costumes, mingled and openly smoked marijuana during the performances.
Rapper B.O.B performs in front of the 4/20 crowd
Second day performances included Colorado based MTHDS, Oakland rapper Pries, Santa Cruz, California's Expendables and highly anticipated, B.O.B. who took the stage at 4:20 PM on 4/20, the magical moment when marijuana enthusiasts simultaneously light up. Indeed, as speakers, awards and musical acts continued to be featured on the amphitheatre stage throughout the two day event, it became increasingly clear that the festival HAS in fact changed in some very fundamental ways. This year, the image of the festival seemed to have become more corporate-oriented and it has lost its longstanding and characteristic edgy mood of defiance by stoners of all ages.
Event organizer Miguel Lopez (in red) among police officers in the process
of shutting down the temporary enclosure
Since Colorado law does not allow smoking marijuana in public, the organizers of the event constructed a temporary enclosure in what appeared to be an attempt to skirt that part of the law. On the first day of the event, April 19th, a team of security people were checking ID's verifying the legal age requirement of twenty-one years, before allowing entrance to smoke. This went on for several hours until local law enforcement appeared to shut it down. Police officers and security cleared the temporary building and proceeded to issue five summonses to employees working the smoker's room, not for infractions of marijuana laws, but for improper vendor licensing of the security team. We were told the organizers were advised by police to call the local authorities to have the summonses dropped. It seems that an agreement was reached between organizers and law enforcement and for the remainder of the two day event smoking wasn't allowed inside the structure.
Cross-section of the 4/20 rally
This year's event did have a more robust police presence, possibly due to the shooting that took place just east of the amphitheater at last year's event. Concerns of underage smoking, a felony for those caught contributing to minors, seemed to be a priority for many vendors on site. Since last year's event took place after the law had been voted for but before the laws governing marijuana possession and use went into effect, authorities would have been unclear as to what would and could be tolerated, unlike this year when actual laws are on the books. Notably, organizers and patrons alike now passively submitted to police intervention when it occurred, working to remain within the stipulated parameters allowed by the authorities, a huge departure from previous years.
Cross-section of the 4/20 rally
Nick Allen of The Telegraph explains:
Police said a total of 130 people were arrested or issued on-the-spot fines. Of those, 92 were for public consumption of cannabis and 22 people 'went to jail'. Tourists had flooded into Colorado for the event and 20 of those either arrested or fined were from outside Colorado. The fines were $150. Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said officers had avoided wading into the crowd but 'those ticketed were blatantly in violation of state law and city ordinances' regarding outdoor smoking.
Patrons of the 4/20 Rally enjoy a smoke
The 4/20 festival ran for the usual two days but something was off. Perhaps it was the increased police presence and subsequent interventions; perhaps it was the commercial sheen of corporate America infiltrating the event for its slice of the pie; perhaps it was the open political approval that marked its early hours; or perhaps it was the collective mood of peace, love and harmony deficient of the time honored traditions of rebellion and resistance to the control of the same influences that are now pervading. If this year's trend is anything to go by, Colorado's 4/20 festival seems to be undergoing a rebrand that is set to exclude the spirit and nature of its beginning.
Denver's Civic Center 4/20 Marijuana Rally 2014 in pictures:
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