Liquor sales okayed during 4/20 event at Civic Center Park but public pot smoking illegal

As we've reported, city officials expect organizers of this weekend's 4/20 event at Denver's Civic Center Park to actively discourage public pot smoking -- an activity that's illegal under Colorado law. However, liquor will be sold and can be consumed at the McNichols Building on the Civic Center complex during the festival.

Among those who sees this situation as contradictory is Miguel Lopez, the 4/20 weekend's organizer who applied for the right to sell beer in the first place.

According to Lopez, the beer-sale request was submitted to Denver Arts & Venues, the city department that oversees the McNichols Building -- and it has been approved.

Lopez adds that "the beer and liquor will not be allowed outside the McNichols Building" during the two-day event, taking place Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20. "People can't just get it and go outside. It's in a controlled area."

Still, drinkers should be able to see what's going on outside through the structure's large windows and probably hear a muffled version of performances on the main talent stage, where artists such as Wyclef Jean and B.o.B. will be holding forth.

Meanwhile, a series of speakers are slated to address assorted marijuana-related issues at the Civic Center's Greek Theater. While much of the media has started referring to this year's happening as a festival rather than a rally, Lopez stresses that it hasn't abandoned its activist roots.

"We maintain a strong political course and direction," he allows, and he pledges to funnel a percentage of the proceeds from the more commercial aspects of the gathering into good works.

Among the topics certain to be addressed by guest commentators is public marijuana smoking. As Lopez points out, "the 4/20 rally opposed Amendment 64" -- the measure that made it legal for adults age 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of cannabis -- "knowing that the [no-public-smoking] regulations would be a problem not just for the rally, but for everybody in general."

In fact, he says the application for the 4/20 event stated that its purpose was in part to "protest federal prohibition and public-consumption laws."

Afterward, those who light up in the park could face citations from the Denver Police Department. But anyone who's thirsty can amble over to the McNichols Building and belly up to the bar.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa March 11: "Marijuana: City expects 4/20 rally organizers to discourage pot smoking at festival."

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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

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