CU-Boulder 4/20 student protesters: Case dropped after they volunteer for Amendment 64

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"I've never had a case where they offered this kind of thing -- offered to dismiss if the defendants would work for the cause they were protesting for," McAllister says.

In the wake of the decision, McAllister concedes that his clients -- Gabriel Kuettel, Jonathan Edwards and John Demopoulos -- "were clearly guilty of trespassing. But they did it for a principled reason. They didn't like the university's suppression of the First Amendment.

"As we've said all along, the university over-reacts to the 4/20 smoke-out event every year. But this year, their actions were over the top. Everyone knows what they did: They wasted a quarter-million dollars trying to keep the smoke-out off the Norlin Quad, but all they ended up doing was pushing the event two blocks away to a different quad, where students smoked marijuana without any incident."

With that said, McAllister admits that had the case gone to trial, "it would have been very difficult to win based on an argument that the First Amendment exempts this kind of activity. We probably would have relied on jury nullification -- to accept that they committed a crime by crossing this closed area, but to let them off because of their reasons for doing it."

The possibility of a Boulder jury accepting this argument likely convinced Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett's office to look for an exit strategy, McAllister believes. But before then, he thinks various agencies "wasted a lot of money and time" going after Kuettel and company in the first place. "First, the municipal government wanted to prosecute, and then they decided they didn't want to do it; they probably thought it was too complicated on some of these First Amendment grounds. So it was sent to the county, and the DA's office picked it up, meaning they had to refile in county court -- which cost even more money."

Continue to read more about the dismissal of the 4/20 protesters' case, plus photos from the event.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts