Marijuana

Denver Police: Zero Marijuana Consumption Citations Issued at 4/20 Festival

Denver Police: Zero Marijuana Consumption Citations Issued at 4/20 Festival
Jacqueline Collins
Thousands of people descended on Denver's Civic Center Park on April 20 for the Mile High 420 Festival.

Many of those people took part in a spirited demonstration of public marijuana use, a minor offense in Colorado, to celebrate the unofficial 4/20 marijuana holiday — but no one got in trouble for it. According to the Denver Police Department, zero citations were issued at Civic Center Park on April 20 for public marijuana consumption.

An adult male was arrested for trespassing and making threats, and a juvenile female was arrested for fighting, according to the DPD, but there were no arrests connected to marijuana.

The enforcement (or lack thereof) adds to already-conflicting messages from the City of Denver, which sent out a tweet on April 18 encouraging people to "fight the stigma surrounding marijuana use" at the Mile High 420 Fest — only to send out an email blast less than thirty minutes later re-establishing the fact that public pot consumption is still illegal in Denver.

"The consumption of marijuana at the Mile High 420 Festival is strictly prohibited," warned bolded words in the email from the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy, which went on to note that "penalties can range from a fine to possible jail or prison sentence, depending on the type of offense."

The City's Twitter account later deleted its initial tweet, then sent out six more apologizing for its first message and calling itself "a leader in the cannabis industry" while clarifying Denver's stance on public pot consumption and praising its regulation of youth marijuana use.

By comparison, the DPD Twitter account was noticeably quiet regarding marijuana use before April 20, noting only that certain streets around the park would be closed during the festival.

The DPD wouldn't provide the number of officers assigned to Civic Center Park on April 20, but there were police officers stationed at the corners of the park, with a state patrol car parked at Lincoln Veterans Memorial Park, the lawn located between Civic Center and the Colorado State Capitol that was formerly known as both Liberty Park and Lincoln Park. DPD officers in uniform and plainclothes were inside the festival as well, according to DPD and festival organizers, but their presence had been cut back from previous years, with more event security in place.

An annual tradition in Denver since the 1990s, the 4/20 celebration at Civic Center attracted tens of thousands of attendees in 2007, after the gathering became the Denver 420 Rally. Public marijuana consumption citations at Civic Center, usually ranging from several dozen to over 100, were also part of that 4/20 tradition, with approximately 72 citations issued in 2018 and 33 in 2019, the last year the 420 fest was held before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell