Private Events Up, Citations Down on 4/20

Attendees of 2019's Fly Hi 420 Festival enjoy joints at Civic Center Park.
Attendees of 2019's Fly Hi 420 Festival enjoy joints at Civic Center Park. Jacqueline Collins
Public pot consumption is still illegal in Colorado, but thousands of cannabis users don't seem to care about that when April 20 rolls around. The result is usually dozens of 4/20 citations, especially at Civic Center Park, where a rally or festival has been held on that date for well over a decade.

But according to the Denver Police Department, this year was pretty tame, with DPD officers handing out approximately 33 citations and making seven cannabis-related arrests around the city on Saturday, April 20, according to DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson. In 2018, DPD officers issued 72 citations and issued at least one felony charge during the 4/20 festival at Civic Center, 64 of those citations were for public cannabis consumption.
According to a Denver Post article, all of this year's pot citations were handed out at the Fly Hi 420 Festival at Civic Center, but Jackson couldn't confirm that to Westword. Even if that's true, it means that cannabis-related citations and arrests at Civic Center Park dropped by half from 2018 — but judging from what our photographer gathered during the event, there was no correlating drop in cannabis use.

Last year also saw DPD officers hand out consumption citations at a private cannabis club and the Cheba Hut on East Colfax Avenue; Cheba Hut was also disciplined by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses over the matter.

While many private pot-friendly events took place around Denver on this April 20, we haven't found any reports of police activity at any of them. That statistic would spit in the face of tradition if it holds up, as City of Denver officials or DPD officers usually pay a call on at least one or two 4/20 events every year.

This 4/20, Denver was also home to two licensed cannabis consumption venues...double the one we had in 2018.
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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
Contact: Thomas Mitchell