Ever disappointed that 4/20 only comes once a year? Then Miguel Lopez, organizer of Denver's annual 4/20 rally, has good news for you. Because April 20 falls on a Friday this year, the rally has been expanded to two days, with a full slate of happenings scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 21, as well. Lopez has been busy working out logistics, which this year included a meeting with assorted city officials, including folks from the Denver Police Department.
According to Lopez, he received what he describes as a "forceful" letter from officials of the Michael Hancock administration. However, he sees the resulting meeting with DPD types, several city attorneys and a number of management-level mayoral representatives as a positive development.
"Former Mayor Hickenlooper never actually engaged with us or gave us the respect to have a dialogue with us," he says. And while Hancock reps "were questioning whether this was a rally or a festival," he was able to explain that "our primary function is political messaging. And we want to have a positive message."
Indeed, Lopez pointed out that "we address the crowd and ask them not to say, 'F the police.' It's something we just don't want people to do, because they're there protecting our constitutional rights and tolerating our peaceful disobedience. They've done that for the last five years since we've had an official permit, so we don't feel that's appropriate."
Upon mentioning this policy, Lopez says that newly appointed Deputy Chief of Police David Quinones "got out of his chair and gave me a handshake."
Not that Lopez and speakers have ruled out criticism of public officials. His press release about the rally, on view below, emphasizes disagreements with a slew of cannabis-related public policies, including seizure-threat letters sent to 23 dispensaries by U.S. Attorney John Walsh earlier this year.
As for the potential of attendee arrests, Lopez doesn't expect any -- and if ticketing does take place, attorneys Rob Corry and Travis Simpson have pledged to represent those cited.
The schedule of activities is still being finalized, but legendary rapper Too $hort will perform on Friday, as well as at a pre-party on April 19 at Casselman's Bar & Venue. (Casselman's will also host a cannabis-related film festival April 16-18, Lopez reveals.) And on Saturday, Lopez notes that awards and the like will be handed out to local activists. [Update, March 7, 11:27 a.m.: The original version of this post quoted Lopez as saying that High Times's Danny Danko would be speaking on Saturday. Moments ago, Danko contacted us to say he has no plans to appear.]
Still, Lopez emphasizes that "this is a political assembly. Nowhere else in the world is there one like this of its size."
Denver 4/20 Rally release:
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We are proud to announce The Denver 420 Rally will be two consecutive days, Friday April 20th and Saturday April 21st, at Civic Center Park. We are celebrating community, exercising constitutional rights and petitioning our government for redress. This year's rally will emphasize the importance of the pending legislations pertaining to the fate of cannabis in Colorado, underscored through guest speakers, local musicians, unique vendors, national artist TOO SHORT and tens of thousands of cannabis lovers!
This year's theme is "Decision 2012." We have shown the world that cannabis can be used responsibly. This is the year Coloradans decide whether that responsibility has been recognized or whether to continue to allow out-of-state interests to control the cannabis narrative. We rally to repeal the Prohibition of cannabis. We rally to rid laws which erode our personal liberties and waste our fiscal assets on superfluous legal charges. In the Huffington Post article, "Of 50,000 Marijuana Arrests In New York City A Year, Most Are Black And Hispanic Men," from last November, roughly every one out of seven cases that appear in criminal court are for low level pot possession. Empty the prisons of non-violent drug offenders now!
The Prohibition of cannabis erodes America's trust in the Rule of Law. U.S. Attorney John Walsh's threats to dispensaries show prohibitionist contempt for the decision of the People of Colorado to allow the medical cannabis. The U.S. Department of Injustice's betrayal of patients' caregivers restricts safe access to medicine. It's time we fight for the rule of law in Colorado: Medical cannabis is Law.
The Denver 420 Rally's mission is to educate the public about cannabis. Cannabis prohibition is environmentally irresponsible. It prohibits a crop that produces a better fabric than cotton, trees for paper and has optimum nutritional value as food. Cannabis was cultivated by the earliest civilizations and today in over 30 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Great Britain, France, Russia and Spain.
As a true grass roots movement, we are inclusive and actively engaged with community affairs year round. The Denver 420 Rally supports equal economic and employment opportunities for all. We are committed to getting the GREED OUT OF WEED, and oppose any laws, policies and/or ballot initiatives implementing regulations catering only to big business. Average people should not be excluded from participating in the cannabis industry. We are against any irrational limits on adults who wish to grow cannabis for themselves. We believe that cannabis should be treated equally to other legally controlled substances, such as tobacco. We encourage everyone to educate themselves, register and vote for the best long term solution for Colorado in 2012!
420 is just around the corner! So get ready for great food and beverages at down to earth prices, art & wares from pro-marijuana-movement artists, activists and vendors. We are taking vendor applications and can accommodate anybody. Individuals interested in applications should contact (720) 338-8766 for more information.
Minors are not allowed to attend without being escorted by a parent or legal guardian at all times. The Denver 420 Rally is not liable for minors unaccompanied by parents or legal guardians. Truancy officers will be in attendance. As always, this rally is permitted and the coordinators of the Denver 420 Rally work with city officials, Denver police department, Mayor's office of Cultural Affairs and other communities to route morning and afternoon traffic during the rally.
Free legal defense for misdemeanor possession or petty distribution will be provided by Robert J. Corry, Jr. and Travis B. Simpson.
Contribute and pitch in! To have a safer and healthy Denver 420 Rally this year!
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More from our Marijuana archive: "High Times Cannabis Cup report: Pot critic William Breathes catches the buzz (PHOTOS)."