NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre has called the annual 4/20 celebration on the CU-Boulder campus "an orgasm of cannabis consumption" -- one that definitely factored in to CU being named Playboy's top party school.
But a CU regent wants the bash moved off-campus -- and now, student government leaders have joined the call.
"We have some concerns with the event itself and the way it's conducted -- and the crowd it draws onto campus during classes," notes vice president of external affairs Brooks Kanski, speaking on behalf of his fellow CU student government executives, president Andrew Yoder and vice president of internal affairs Carly Robinson.
The makeup of attendees is also an issue for CU Regent Michael Carrigan. In an April post, he said that "outsiders" -- participants who are not current CU students or staffers -- likely made up the majority of those who congregate on campus to light up on April 20, with many of them middle school or high school students whose presence raises safety concerns. He estimated the cost of protecting them at $50,000 per annum, which he considers a tremendous waste.
This expense troubles Kanski, too. "It's disturbing to students that their money is being spent for this," especially in light of speculation he's heard that only 10-25 percent of 4/20 revelers have direct CU ties. "I think it would be a totally different story if a super-majority were students, but that seems not to be the case."
However, he adds, "we've also had a lot of feedback from the student body about the size of the event, and how it disturbs classes around Norlin quad" -- ground zero for 4/20. "A number of them have told us they don't go to classes on 4/20 to avoid the crowds" -- and while he's never skipped out for this reason, he understands the incentive. In his view, "it's really an inconvenience to have to readjust your routine, especially so close to final exams. And it's turned into an all-day event. Crowds start showing up at 8 a.m. and stay until 7 or 8 p.m."
What about the argument that 4/20 is political in nature -- a colorful demonstration that calls for reform of outdated marijuana laws? "I don't know if I would see CU's campus as an appropriate venue for something like that," he allows. "Right now, it's ineffective at conveying a political message when it's creating these sorts of disturbances on campus."
And then there's the question of whether the 4/20 bacchanalia harms CU's reputation. Kanski admits that views on this subject are far from unanimous.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I think as elected executives of the student body, we have to represent the majority belief of the student body -- and we get mixed feelings from students about the reasons we should be doing this," he acknowledges. "But as an administration, we agree that we're here to increase the all-around excellence of our students, and part of that is contributing to a strong academic performance and a strong public image of our school. And this is a negative contributor for our school. We've seen its impact on our school's reputation across the country, and it's something we want to correct -- for the value of our students' degrees more than budget concerns."
At this point, Kanski and his colleagues don't have a position about alternative locations for the 4/20 bash. But once the school year starts, dealing with this problem will be "a strong priority for all of us."
Look below and page down to see photos of this year's 4/20 event at CU.
More from our Marijuana archive: "4/20 in Boulder preview: 'An orgasm of cannabis consumption.'"