Ten Tips for Surviving 4/20 in Colorado

Denver 4/20 rally in Civic Center Park on May 21, 2016.
Denver 4/20 rally in Civic Center Park on May 21, 2016. Westword
4/20 has been a sacred holiday since the ’70s, and with Colorado leading the way on recreational legalization, Denver has become ground zero for the celebration. Whether it's your first time in town for the big day or you're a veteran, here are some tips on how to survive 4/20 at Civic Center Park and beyond:

1. Don't carry more than an ounce
When you leave for the day, make sure you're carrying no more than the legal amount of marijuana. If you're planning to stop by a dispensary during the day, carry less than the legal amount so you don't go over. In Colorado, it's legal for adults 21 and up to possess one ounce of THC — flower, concentrates, edibles, whatever. Just make sure the total amount of THC does not go over one ounce.

2. Don't consume in public

It's illegal to consume in public. Many of the venues are providing buses where you can smoke, but be wary of smoking in public. There could be up to 100,000 people partying around the city this weekend, which means the police will be out in force. Save yourself from unnecessary paranoia: Don't smoke where it's not permitted.

3. Carry ID
You must be 21 to consume or possess marijuana in Colorado. If you're underage, or with underage people, be cautious. If you provide marijuana to minors, you're breaking the law. You will need ID to get into all venues, and you'll need it to get inside any dispensary. You don't need to be a Colorado resident to possess cannabis, but it's a good idea to keep ID on you at all times.

4. Make a plan
There are so many epic things happening throughout the weekend, you'll need to plan ahead to hit as many as you can, from concerts at Red Rocks to the 420 Rally and 420 on the Block. Lyft and Uber are both offering deals on rides. Seventeen percent of DUI arrests in Colorado involve marijuana, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation; don't be part of the statistic. It's also illegal to drive with open containers, so if you are pulled over, that's an additional penalty in addition to the DUI.

5. Dangers of polyconsumption
Be wary if you're consuming alcohol or using other drugs. When you smoke marijuana, it moves quickly from your lungs into your bloodstream and then is transported to your brain and other organs. Alcohol also metabolizes in the bloodstream; consuming both simultaneously makes it difficult to regulate your consumption levels.

Read on for more tips in our 4/20 survival guide.
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Denver 4/20 rally in Civic Center Park on May 21, 2016.
6. Smoking vs. edibles
When you smoke marijuana, you begin to feel the effects almost immediately and you'll continue to feel the effects for one to three hours. When cannabis is consumed in food or drink, it can take anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes for it to kick in, and once it does, it can last up to four hours. If you're smoking and eating edibles, use caution and go slow.

7. Pace yourself

4/20 is a perfect excuse to smoke all day, but it's important to pace yourself. Even the most veteran users can overdo it. Try to keep track of how much you're consuming and make sure you don't get too high too quickly.

8. Bring water

Last year, the 420 rally was snowed out. This year the weather will be better, but even if it's raining, you'll need to bring a water bottle so you can stay hydrated. This is especially important for tourists: Colorado is at a higher elevation, so the high will hit you harder here.

9. You're better off with regulated product
We're all about sharing, and so much of cannabis culture is about sharing your goods with others. It's always best to share weed with people you know, though. There are some creeps out there, so if you're sharing, make sure you know what you're getting.

10. Have fun!
There are more than two dozen 4/20-related events over the next four days. Enjoy them. Hit as many as you can. Have fun meeting new people and learning more about all that Colorado's cannabis community has to offer.
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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.

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