4/20 at CU Boulder: Campus is quiet, estimated $100,000-plus spent to keep it that way

Last week, CU-Boulder Police's Ryan Huff outlined plans related to the campus' closure on 4/20, and said most visitor-pass applications seemed inspired by Friday's Macklemore concert rather than plans to protest the second consecutive April 20 shutdown.

And so it went: While a huge crowd gathered at Denver's Civic Center Park for a rally disrupted by a shooting, CU-Boulder, once home to an enormous 4/20 event, was quiet. But making sure it stayed that way wasn't cheap.

"I think it was a non-event," says Huff, the CU-Boulder Police Department's spokesman. "The number of people we saw on campus was similar to a normal Saturday during springtime. We had absolutely no negative interactions with people.

"Some people did complain about the closure," he acknowledges, "but they were provided with index cards that showed them how to express their thoughts to the administration." Overall, "people were generally understanding, and there were no arrests."

Not that law enforcement was entirely idle on Saturday.

"There were two students cited for marijuana possession around 4:30 p.m.," Huff confirms. The pair were just outside Baker Hall, one of the dorms on campus, he notes, and because "one person was under the age of 21, that person was given two tickets -- one for public consumption of marijuana, and the other for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana.

"The other person was over the age of 21, so that person, also a student, is allowed to legally possess an ounce or less of marijuana" under the guidelines of Amendment 64, Huff continues. "So the only ticket they received was public consumption of marijuana, which is a petty offense in the state."

When asked if the two could have been staging a very small, personal protest, Huff replies, "I don't think so. I think this was two students who just happened to be smoking marijuana outside one of the residence halls, which could happen on any day here -- not just 4/20."

How many officers were deployed to secure the campus? Huff declines to answer for security purposes. However, he says the total was "similar to the number of officers used last year," when the university's expenses for closure number one was approximately $125,000.

Continue for more about 4/20 at CU-Boulder, including photos. No telling at this point if this year's tally will be higher or lower than the 2012 sum, since CU-Boulder is waiting to be billed by the assorted law-enforcement agencies that participated in the exercise: the Boulder Police Department, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, the Adams County Sheriff's Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Broomfield Police Department.

In addition, Huff says, "we also got assistance from the Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and the Colorado State Patrol, who were on the roadways doing some addition driving-under-the-influence-of=drugs-and-alcohol enforcement."

Huff doesn't heard about pot-related traffic stops in Boulder associated with the operation, but he notes that "we did not have any DUID arrests on campus on Saturday. And my educated guess is that since there was virtually nothing happening on campus, I don't suspect there was a large number of people driving around under the influence of drugs."

Demonstrations of 4/20 revelry were low-key elsewhere in town, too. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that a gathering on University Hill featured approximately fifteen people.

Does that mean 4/20 at CU-Boulder is essentially a thing of the past? Huff isn't ready to go there quite yet.

"The event has clearly been reduced in size quite considerably -- from 10,000-plus to a few hundred last year to basically nothing this year," he says. "But in the next few months, the administration and other people involved who plan the response to this day will be getting together and talking about what the plan will be for next year."

Among the wild cards for 2014: Not only does April 20 fall on a weekend, but it actually takes place on Easter Sunday. "I don't know how that will impact things," Huff says, "but that's another factor."

In any event, the latest 4/20 was far different from the one that took place during the first closure, when three people were arrested for venturing onto Norlin Quad, where past 4/20 celebrations traditionally took place, and others who objected to the closure breached the barrier and lit up in defiance of the order.

Continue to see images of 4/20 at CU-Boulder last year by photographer Britt Chester. Continue to see more of Britt Chester's photos from 4/20 at CU-Boulder last year. Continue to see more of Britt Chester's photos from 4/20 at CU-Boulder last year.

More from our Education archive: "4/20 at CU-Boulder: Rob Corry explains why he won't challenge campus closure."

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