If Denver's marijuana enthusiasts are serious about decriminalizing their favorite narcotic, they sure didn't show much enthusiasm for it on Thursday night. Or maybe they just got stoned and forgot.
Either way, I was surprised by how few people showed up for the Official 420 Rally Fundraiser, held at Pure nightclub on Welton Street (in the old Roxy) on April 9. The purpose of the event, according to the group's press release, was to raise money for porta-potties and dumpsters for the upcoming 420 rally at Civic Center Park, which it claimed the city provided for free last year but is refusing to do again. (For the record, the city says it did not provide free services for last year's April 20 rally, and insists it's just sticking to its standard rules for events held in city parks).
The real porta-pottie story may forever be clouded in a dopey haze, but the dozens of folks who did show up on Thursday seemed unfazed by any bureaucratic roadblocks standing in their way. In fact, Miguel Lopez, the executive director of Denver's 420 Rally, says he believes the city is on the cusp of what could be a historic national revolution when it comes to the legalization of marijuana.
I gladly joined the rebellion, donating five bucks toward the cause. My money went toward a raffle featuring assorted prizes ranging from glass pipes to free dental exams (?). But when I asked Lopez how I would claim my prize if I won, since I likely wouldn't be there for the 1 a.m drawing, he drew a blank.
"Umm... ha... I didn't really think of that kind of scenario," he said, reaffirming every preexisting stereotype I had bestowed on him. "You know, sometimes you don't think about things until they happen." I suggested writing my name and number on the back of the stub. He thought that was a pretty good idea.
But other than these minor logistical difficulties, Lopez was an intelligent, agreeable guy, and he seemed legitimately focused on his mission: to tack on another freedom to the long, lovely list of them here in the U.S. of A.
With a lineup of diverse local bands, comedians and a few felicitous vendors -- namely a smoking-accessories shop and a hemp ice cream sandwich man -- the rally had all the necessary ingredients... except enough people. It's hard to pinpoint the reason for this: weak publicity, curious location, slow night. Who knows? What mattered was that it was happening, and at least some people were showing up to support the cause. Right?
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Well... sort of. When I asked Lopez how much more money they needed to raise for the porta-potties and trash receptacles, he proudly informed me they had already raised enough for those, plus all of their security needs. Confused, I produced the event's official press release, and noted that the purpose of that night's event seemed focused on raising money for those exact things.
Lopez, caught slightly off-guard (again), eventually informed me that the money collected would be used for "extra barricades" and "sound equipment." Seems legitimate enough, though I wonder how many people there would have willingly forked over their precious legal greens for extra fences and speakers. Clearly, you can't hold a large public event without bathrooms and garbage cans, but imagining my five bucks going toward just another sub-woofer pumping out "Hits From the Bong" and "Burn One Down" wasn't as satisfying.
Oh, well. Maybe I'll win a free dental exam.