Christian Educator Calling for Denver 420 Rally Ban Agrees to Debate

Christian Educator Calling for Denver 420 Rally Ban Agrees to Debate
Brandon Marshall

Update: A Colorado Christian University administrator who wants to ban the Denver 420 Rally has agreed to debate the event's lawyer, a major pro-pot figure who says a CCU petition launched in the wake of headlines about the alleged trashing of Civic Center Park following this year's event is filled with falsehoods.

The text from the petition, created under the auspices of Centennial Institute director Jeff Hunt, and a response letter sent by attorney Rob Corry are on view below as part of our previous coverage.

In the letter, Corry challenged Hunt to a debate "on the issue of whether cannabis was created by God and whether cannabis should be permitted in Colorado and in the United States of America." Late yesterday afternoon, Hunt copied us on the following reply:

The Centennial Institute and Colorado Christian University stand by the facts in the ‘Terminate 420 Rallies’ petition. The facts in the petition are backed up by press accounts and police reports.

We accept Mr. Corry’s challenge to debate. Colorado Christian University will host a summit on the impacts of marijuana in Colorado on August 11, 2017. This Summit, held at Colorado Christian University, is a perfect venue for the debate. We look forward to Mr. Corry’s response.

Shortly thereafter, Corry responded with this:

Dear Mr. Hunt:

Thank you for your response. If you have any factual proof about the statements you made, I would appreciate receiving it, such as specifics regarding the unsafe conditions, injuries, knife attacks, gunshots and tax dollars spent and identities of City workers participating in the cleanup.

As far as your proposed date for the debate on August 11, 2017, that date works for my calendar and I accept, provided that the debate is open to the general public and the media, without limits. Please advise me of the logistics when you are able.

Continue for our previous coverage.

A photo from our slideshow "Happy 4/20! Denver's Stoners Make Annual Pilgrimage to Civic Center Park."
Brandon Marshall

Original post, 5:51 a.m. May 1: A petition on the website of Colorado Christian University calls for the annual Denver 420 Rally to be banned in the wake of an event this year marked by long lines, a nearby shooting and mounds of trash that littered Civic Center Park the following morning. But an attorney for the event pushes back in a letter, on view below, that challenges the man behind the petition to a debate "on the issue of whether cannabis was created by God and whether cannabis should be permitted in Colorado and in the United States of America."

Here's the text of the petition:

Denver’s 4/20 rallies have become unsafe, flaunting blatant illegal activity, and trashing a national historic landmark, and with incidents of knife attacks and gunshots, the rally is a threat to attendees and the people of Denver.

When voters of Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, they established important safety guidelines, one of those being that marijuana cannot be consumed openly and publicly. Despite warnings, signage, and the presence of security and the Denver Police, marijuana was allowed to be consumed openly and publicly by many attendees, even in the presence of children and infants. Marijuana was also consumed on stage by performers with no action by law enforcement.

Afterward, organizers of the 4/20 rally did not adequately clean up Civic Center Park, a national historic landmark. The result was huge amounts of trash left over for city workers to clean up. This is an additional cost to taxpayers and a desecration of an important park in our city.

The 4/20 rally also creates series safety problems. Gun shots took place nearby, a knife attack took place at the event, and attendees pushed down a security fence to gain access to the rally.

It is clear from this event that organizers do not have the safety and well-being of Denver residents in mind. They allow for the flagrant violation of the law, the trashing of Civic Center Park, and do not provide adequate security for event attendees.

We hereby ask that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock terminate future 4/20 rallies in the city of Denver.

Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy for Colorado Christian University and the director of CCU's Centennial Institute.
Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy for Colorado Christian University and the director of CCU's Centennial Institute.
Courtesy of Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University has a long history of anti-marijuana policy, as we documented in our July 2016 post about the death of former senator Bill Armstrong, who served as CCU's president for a decade, beginning in 2006. Note that in 2014, Armstrong strongly advocated for a pot-business ban in Lakewood, where the university is located, arguing that CCU stood to lose potential students if sales were allowed to go forward. "It's a fact, and it's been published: Marijuana and the use of marijuana has been implicated in serious misbehavior, delusions, hallucinations, and in some cases, violent acts," Armstrong said at the time.

The anti-Denver 420 Rally petition was sent to media organizations, including this one, under the auspices of Centennial Institute, an affiliate of Colorado Christian University; the slogan atop the press release reads, "Advancing Faith, Family, and Freedom." In the letter, the institute's director, Jeff Hunt, urges folks to sign the petition, maintaining that "we deserve better than to have destructive 4/20 rallies ruin our great city."

We've requested an interview with Hunt, who served as special assistant to Senator Rick Santorum's 2012 White House bid and director of Colorado Coalitions for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. When and if he gets back to us, we'll share his views here.

Meanwhile, attorney Rob Corry has issued a letter to Hunt, dated May 1, that makes a "Request for Correction of False Statements," as well as a "Challenge to Debate."

When Corry spoke to us last week, he made it clear that any attempt by the City of Denver to ban the Denver 420 Rally would trigger a lawsuit. In the missive to Hunt, Corry makes similar points about "our annual Rally’s First Amendment-protected speech." Read the letter below.

Not everyone followed the rules with regard to public consumption at this year's Denver 420 Rally.
Not everyone followed the rules with regard to public consumption at this year's Denver 420 Rally.
Brandon Marshall

May 1, 2017
Jeff Hunt
Vice President of Public Policy, Colorado Christian University
Director, Centennial Institute
8787 W. Alameda Ave.
Lakewood, CO 80226
Re: Request for Correction of False Statements;
Challenge to Debate

Dear Mr. Hunt:

This law firm represents Denver 420 Rally and Civic Center Park Productions, LLC.

Days ago, I called you and left a message in an effort to discuss this matter in person, or at least over the telephone. A conversation between men of goodwill is more likely to result in common ground than is written correspondence, which tends to encourage posturing. However, you did not return my call, so I am forced to write instead.

Your mass e-mail of April 26, 2017 and your virtually identical Denver Post Guest Editorial of April 28, 2017, each engages in false witness, statements which caused damages to my clients and which we request that you publicly correct immediately in order to minimize ongoing damage to my clients. Though you may hate the cannabis plant that God placed on His Earth (see Genesis 1:29), if you are to engage in this judgmental foray against our annual Rally’s First Amendment-protected speech, it is important that you speak the Truth. Details of your false statements follow:

Jeff Hunt Statement: “Denver’s 420 Rally is unsafe”

Upcoming Events

Truth: Not a single unsafe condition nor injury occurred at or in conjunction with the 420 Rally this year, despite
50,000 attendees, which is the population of Broomfield, CO.

Jeff Hunt Statement: “incidents of knife attacks”

Truth: No knife attacks occurred at the Rally. One person slashed trash bags during the nighttime cleanup effort, but there was no “attack” on another person.

Jeff Hunt Statement:  “incidents of gunshots”

Truth: No gunshots occurred at the Rally. On April 20, 2017, in Downtown Denver, a person is alleged to have shot a gun outside of a restaurant on 16th Street Mall, blocks from and unassociated with the Rally.

Jeff Hunt Statement: “marijuana was allowed to be consumed openly and publicly...with no action by law enforcement”

Truth:  Rally organizers distributed guidance that open and public consumption of marijuana is prohibited; Denver Police Department issued 44 citations for public consumption and received criticism for their overly aggressive action. You should not demonize law enforcement for not acting; they took action, probably too much.

Jeff Hunt Statement:  “organizers did not adequately clean up Civic Center...our city workers were charged with the cleanup, on our tax dollars.”

Truth: Organizers completely cleaned up Civic Center, at our 100 percent expense, using private crews previously arranged and approved by the City. City workers did not participate in cleanup. No tax dollars were spent on cleanup. This has been the case for many years. The State of Colorado and the City of Denver each profited from the event in the form of thousand of dollars of sales tax revenue and other direct and indirect revenue.

In addition to your failure to tell the Truth, the judgmental tone of your effete sensibilities is unmanly and unbecoming of a Christian. There is nothing in the Holy Bible that expresses any disapproval of the cannabis plant. Your concerns with this seed-bearing plant are not Biblical, do not come from Jesus, but rather are modern, invented, robotic, knee-jerk, ignorant judgments that even the Founding Fathers of this Nation do not share, since many of them grew and consumed cannabis on their planations and wrote the Declaration of Independence on paper made from cannabis.

As an aside, it is astounding that you literally ask the Mayor of Denver, as the government, to prohibit our Rally’s speech just because you disagree with it. What country do you think this is? Do you acknowledge the existence of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Do you believe it has any effect? Your own event, the “Western Conservative Summit,” occurs on City of Denver property, the Colorado Convention Center, with the permission of the government. Would you take seriously any request that your event be prohibited because your event, which hosted candidate Donald Trump last year, engages in speech that might not be accepted by the Mayor of Denver?

The Mayor of Denver has his views about 420 and about cannabis, to which he is entitled. Until you, no serious political player has ever suggested that the government has the power to censor and prohibit, in advance, free speech with which the government disagrees. Do you understand that the First Amendment protects you as well as we?

Americans are growing weary of people like you who proclaim to support “freedom,” but clearly have no idea of what “freedom” actually is. Although you have caused my clients damages, that might be reparable, especially because your hasty decision to pick an unnecessary fight with our harmless little 420 Rally may be an opportunity sent by God Himself. It is now time for you to speak for the Statist wing of the conservative movement and publicly defend Prohibition, the most failed and anti-freedom government policy ever devised.

Accordingly, I hereby challenge you to a debate on the issue of whether cannabis was created by God and whether cannabis should be permitted in Colorado and in the United States of America. I would be happy to hold this debate at your university at a date and time consistent with both of our calendars. Your views might be strengthened and refined by some competition and challenge.

Whether you are willing as a man to back your views in a debate, either way you will correct your false statements, or we will closely evaluate whether your statements cause us damages in the form of additional expenses or enhanced permit conditions on future events, in which case we will file a lawsuit against your organizations in order to protect our reputations and to prevent further damages. Thank you for your prompt attention to the above important matters.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Corry, Jr.
Attorney at Law


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