Update: 5 p.m., Wednesday, October 25
Euflora owner Pepe Breton has announced a lawsuit against Civic Center Products, a company owned by 420 Rally permit-holder Santino Walter that helped produce the rally. The lawsuit alleges that Civic Center Productions asked Breton and Euflora to loan $23,126 to pay 2Chainz to perform for the rally the day of the event, but Civic Center Productions did not repay the debt. Breton says he and his Euflora employees will continue to camp out at the Parks and Recreation Building 24/7 even if the debt is paid. Walter could not be reached for comment at this time.
The owner of a Denver dispensary chain wants to be the new organizer of a 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park so bad that he's camping outside the city building where park permits are issued. Pepe Breton, co-founder of Euflora, wasn't happy with how the last Denver 420 Rally turned out, so he and his employees will be sitting outside of the Denver Parks and Recreation building on Colfax Avenue — steps away from where the event is held — until November 1, the first day you can apply for an event permit for April 20, 2018.
Regularly held on or around April 20 since 1994, the 420 Rally has been organized by permit-holder Miguel Lopez since 2007. The rally has grown in attendance each year, with Lopez bringing in national weed-friendly music acts such as Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and 2Chainz to perform. However, the 2017 edition drew the ire of city officials and the public alike after photos and reports of long security lines, broken fences and overflowing trash cans during the rally surfaced shortly after it ended.
In May, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's office banned 420 Rally organizers Lopez and Santino Walter from applying for an event permit for three years, citing trash management, noise, public safety and security violations. Lopez, Walter and their attorney, Rob Corry, appealed the ban in September, with a formal decision expected by November 9, according to Denver Parks and Recreation. And although the noise violation was dropped during the appeal process, Lopez and Walter are still charged with five violations – the number needed to enact a ban on applying for a permit.
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Lopez and Walter could be found to have anywhere from no violations to five violations, with three resulting in a fine, and four taking away their priority status with the city that allowed them first dibs on the April 20 permit. But instead of waiting to see what happens on November 9, Breton has decided to stake his claim early. “I won’t stand by while they get away with what they did to the park, to the city and to the image of our young industry,” he said in a prepared statement. “We worked very closely with Lopez and company at the event this past April. We were one of their biggest sponsors, and they simply couldn’t do what they promised. The entire event was categorically mismanaged. They couldn’t pay their bills, their vendors or even clean up their mess.”
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Lopez says he never met Breton until the day of the 2017 rally, calling him a Johnny-come-lately to Denver's cannabis scene. "It's funny. I'm not taking it serious," Lopez says of Breton's efforts. "We don't understand why he would do it."
Although he's lost his priority status with the city and won't hear an official decision from Denver Hearing Officer David Ramirez until November, Lopez says he's already applied for a permit for an event at Civic Center Park on April 20. Coupled with the city's decision to drop his noise violation, Lopez thinks he'll be organizing the rally in 2018, too. "I'm very confident we'll be back. We're very positive," he says.
Breton is singing a different tune, saying his vision better represents Colorado's affinity for cannabis. If given the permit, he plans on holding an event that also features food, music and culture, but in a smoother fashion.
“It’s time to move beyond having a 420 Rally and turn this event into a celebration of legalization, normalization and the responsible choice adults are free to make in Colorado,” Breton explained. “Euflora seeks to bring a more balanced approach to the event, with music, food and culture that represents more than just the slim demographics that were catered to in the past.”