As we noted in our roundup of the top twenty tweets about 4/20 at Civic Center Park over the weekend, some locals were less than thrilled about the annual event. But few observers were as negative as Smart Colorado, an organization devoted to "protecting youth from marijuana." In the wake of the rally, the group put out a statement under the heading "Smart Colorado Speaks About Shocking 4/20 Activities" that decried the gathering in terms that a pot advocate heavily involved in the Civic Center spectacle describes as "hysterical." In the Smart Colorado release (on view below in its entirety), spokeswoman Rachel O'Bryan maintains that members of the marijuana industry "willfully betrayed many of their key Amendment 64 supporters who passed the amendment with important conditions to legalization -- including that open and public consumption would not be permitted, and marijuana would be tightly regulated and kept out of the hands of those under the age of 21.
"The messages we are sending our youth are deeply concerning," O'Bryan continues. "Getting high is being encouraged, celebrated and glorified."
In addition, O'Bryan takes direct aim at marijuana edibles, stating that the products have been "directly connected" to two recent deaths: Richard Kirk's alleged murder of his wife after reportedly consuming a piece of Karma Kandy Orange Ginger and the death of Levy Thamba, also known as Levi Thamba Pongi, who died in a fall from a hotel balcony after eating six times the recommended amount of a marijuana cookie.
Pot scene observers like our William Breathes consider this last argument as perpetuating the myth that cannabis causes violence. Likewise, Rob Corry, attorney for the 4/20 at Civic Center rally and a featured speaker at yesterday's event, sees Smart Colorado's reaction as out of touch.
"I'm shocked that they're shocked: It's hysterical," Corry says. He believes Smart Colorado's verbiage is overstated in the extreme -- in his words, "Western culture will endure after the 4/20 rally" -- and representative of fewer and fewer Coloradans.
"Smart Colorado is a fringe organization," he maintains. "They're the minority. Clearly, they took their shot in the election and lost. And that's how things get done in this country: Majority rules." He sees the group as "a vestige of the prohibition-industrial complex that had its salaries paid by marijuana being illegal."
Here's the complete Smart Colorado release:
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
Smart Colorado Spokesperson and Denver Resident, Rachel O'Bryan, Speaks About 4/20 Celebrations
"Both the state and city of Denver have spent countless hours enacting new regulations to address Amendment 64. Yet, this past weekend we saw marijuana users and folks from the industry openly flouting the laws by consuming pot in public. If Denver can't enforce its own ordinances because of the enormity of the task and lack of cooperation from the marijuana industry, then none of our residents or visitors are adequately protected.
"Moreover, these activities show that the marijuana industry willfully betrayed many of their key Amendment 64 supporters who passed the amendment with important conditions to legalization -- including that open and public consumption would not be permitted, and marijuana would be tightly regulated and kept out of the hands of those under the age of 21.
"The messages we are sending our youth are deeply concerning. Getting high is being encouraged, celebrated and glorified. We already know marijuana at low THC potency levels permanently changes the developing brain. We have no idea how the extremely high THC levels being found in many of the products being sold all over Denver will affect Colorado adults let alone Colorado youth
"There are still highly potent and deceptive marijuana infused candies and other sweets being sold in the market without adequate warnings and safety measures in place, despite two recent deaths in Denver directly connected to such products.
"Just four months into legalized marijuana sales, why have so few of the promises made by the marijuana industry been kept?"
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.