130 arrests or citations during 4/20 at Civic Center Park is way too many, attorney says

Rob Corry.
Rob Corry.

Yesterday, Rob Corry, attorney and speaker for the 4/20 rally at Civic Center Park, dismissed complaints about the event from the anti-pot group Smart Colorado as "hysterical."

He's similarly critical of the Denver police arresting or citing 130 people (as well as jailing 22) at an event he otherwise sees as an unalloyed success.

Corry has nothing but good things to say about a variety of 4/20 events. "I went to the Cannabis Cup on Saturday, and that was excellent," he notes. "And I went to the rally on Sunday, and it went very smoothly. Overall, I think it was a success -- although there were too many citations for public smoking."

Indeed, Corry is agog over the 130 arrests or citations over the course of the weekend -- a figure that dwarfs the five arrests or citations in 2013. (We've asked the Denver Police Department for 2012 figures, but representatives have not yet gotten back to us. When and if they do, we'll add that information.)

Click to see more images by photographer Kyle Huninghake from our 4/20 at Civic Center slide show.
Click to see more images by photographer Kyle Huninghake from our 4/20 at Civic Center slide show.

"I didn't witness a single citation being issued firsthand," he says, "but I did see quite a large police presence. Based on what I saw, they seemed to be exercising restaint, but I would not characterize over 100 citations as restraint.

"Obviously, the crowd was larger" than in past years, he acknowledges. "But that number [of arrests and citations] is much too high."

As he's done in the past, Corry is offering to defend for free anyone who wants to take a 4/20 citation or arrest to a jury trial. "If the City of Denver wants to spend its time in front of juries to see if a jury will convict on this, that's their choice," he allows. "If so, I'm happy to do it."

In William Breathes's account of the 4/20 rally, he quotes Corry telling a crowd shortly before 4:20 p.m. about "a moment of freedom." Breathes interpreted that phrase as giving de facto permission for attendees to light up, even though organizers agreed to discourage public marijuana smoking, which is against state law.

But Corry disagrees with that take.

Continue for more of our interview with Rob Corry about arrests, citations and the 4/20 rally, including a video.  

Click to see more images by photographer Kyle Huninghake from our 4/20 at Civic Center slide show.
Click to see more images by photographer Kyle Huninghake from our 4/20 at Civic Center slide show.

"We kept our end of the bargain" in regard to public consumption, he maintains. "There were signs posted everywhere, and we had spot checks of people coming in: pat-downs, that kind of thing. We did what we committed to do."

Regarding the "moment of freedom" remark, he says, "4/20 is larger than just marijuana. It's always been about freedom, in my view. It's about our exercise of freedom as free people in a free country, and it's also about our relationship to our government. So there are many ways to interpret what I said -- but we weren't encouraging anything illegal by any means."

In the wake of the rally, 9News asked if 4/20 publicity has helped or harmed Colorado's reputation. Opinions vary, as seen in the station's report, on view below -- but Corry rejects the idea that the gathering gave the state a black eye.

"I think it was overwhelmingly positive," he allows. "You had picture after picture of smiling people who were happy and seemed to be enjoying themselves in the Mile High City, and that's a good thing for us. These people come from all over the world and inject millions of dollars into our local economy. The hotels and restaurants were packed and there was all sorts of commerce going on. It's good for business, and I'm glad Denver has become the recognized leader for the 4/20 celebration worldwide. And I think that's only going to continue." . Neither the City of Denver nor the State of Colorado did anything to actively promote the celebration, which Corry sees as shortsighted. "Honestly, this event is going to happen with or without approval from the government," he believes. "But they really need to stop the negativity -- this finger-wagging type of thing. And stop citing people for public consumption. If they feel they need to do that, maybe they should cite people for public consumption of alcohol at a Broncos tailgate. It's absurd."

Here's the aforementioned 9News report about 4/20's impact on Colorado's reptuation.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa April 21: "4/20 in Denver events were 'shocking,' says anti-pot group Smart Colorado."

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