Veterans in Colorado's cannabis industry are the new kids on the block for 4/20.
Since there's no High Times event on April 20 in Colorado this year, local companies are coming together to create their own 4/20 commemoration that will be representative of the state's marijuana industry. The Green Solution, The Hemp Connoisseur (THC) magazine, incredibles and New Earth Muziq are partnering to host 420 on the Block in the 1000 to 1200 blocks of Broadway on Thursday, April 20.
"We want to take 4/20 back," says Nick Callaio, marketing and events director for the Green Solution. "High Times didn't have to jump through all those hoops...we had to jump through all those hoops."
David Maddalena, founder and CEO of THC magazine, agrees, as do other local industry leaders. They know the Colorado cannabis scene better than anyone else, they say, so with High Times out of the market, it's high time for a collaboration like this one. "The industry has grown up, and it's time for the 4/20 event to show some more maturity and be more in line with all the licensed companies that would like to partake and be part of it," Maddalena explains.
Lily Colley, director of marketing for incredibles, thinks it's natural to combine cannabis and other areas of culture in Denver, and 4/20 is the perfect time to do that. "We saw an opportunity in the void that was left," Colley says. "There is a bigger message that music and creativity and cannabis are the future, and it's about breaking that paradigm and showing that these companies are professional, well-established, and there's a reason they are the market leaders."
Adrian Zelski, founder of New Earth Muziq, says his company's involvement is more than event sponsorship — it's about sending a message in the age of Trump. Colorado's senators and Governor John Hickenlooper have said they'll defend this state's rights regarding the cannabis industry; according to Zelski, the industry needs to step up and prove that Denver can have a safe, regulated, fun 4/20 event that will show the naysayers what cannabis in Colorado is really about.
"It's going to be really important to have a follow-through where they come and see an event that's going on and it's not teenagers smoking pot in the middle of the streets," Zelski says. "It's people wanting to go out and have fun — trying to behave in a responsible way to make an industry out of cannabis rather than be a Wild West scenario. We're expecting people from out of town, so we want to educate and inspire and be a seed of a really good culture for cannabis."
The organizers are excited to expand the initial list of sponsors to include more businesses. "I thought it was going to be a lot of dog-eat-dog conversation, but everybody has been real open [about getting] everyone involved," Zelski says.
"It's about making an inclusive event," Maddalena adds. "We've invited some of our competition.... This is about the community. This is about bringing everyone in this industry together to celebrate how far we've come."
Callaio agrees, explaining that it's more important now than ever before for the industry's members to present a united front and display what they've accomplished in Colorado. "We want to band together. It's such a young industry; we should be working together for a greater goal, showing the rest of the world this can be a professional, well-oiled machine, just like any other industry," he says.
And the team behind the 4/20 event is already planning ahead for future years. They've booked the venues involved in the 2017 4/20 weekend for the next two years, and say they're excited to make this an annual event that people can look forward to.
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The group is collaborating with CoClub Venues to set up events at six venues on Broadway: Vinyl, the Church, Bar Standard, Milk Bar, City Hall and the Living Room.The celebration will feature live music, comedy and industry speakers; each program will start at — wait for it — 4:20 p.m. Performers who've already been booked include both local and international acts: Cut Chemist, Don Carlos, Rusko, Dumpstaphunk, J Phlip, Del the Funky Homosapien, Invisibl Skratch Picklz, Blockhead and Phaeleh.
"We're trying to build something that's respectable, compliant, responsible but also as fun as you can possibly imagine," Zelski says.
"Solidarity in this industry is how we all will rise together," Colley adds. "We want to reclaim 4/20 for Denver."
Early-bird tickets are available starting at $21; VIP tickets are $75 and include a backstage pass, swag bag and artist meet-and-greets. incredibles will launch a new product line of gummies during the festivities and is offering free tickets through its website. For more event information, go to 420ontheblock.com.