Marijuana group denied permit for Jan. rally, Miguel Lopez threatens legal action (PHOTOS)

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Last January, Mile High NORML staged a pro-cannabis rally across the street from the State Capitol to correspond with the opening of the legislative session; see photos below. But advocate Miguel Lopez's attempt to stage a sequel has hit a stumbling block. The state has denied him a permit for the event due to security concerns -- and he's threatening legal action over the decision.

Here's a copy of the e-mail sent to Lopez by Rita Lambert, the state's parking & permit programs manager:

From: "Lambert, Rita"

To: Miguel Lopez

Sent: Wed, November 17, 2010 8:20:33 AM

Subject: Permit for January 12th


Your permit request for the January 12th event (Denver 420 Rally, Mile High NORML...) at Lincoln Park has been denied. January 10th through 14th are the events involving the inauguration for the new Governor, State of State speech, etc., and due to security issues we are not allowing additional permits on the West steps or Lincoln Park during that week.

If you'd like to talk to our Property Manager for further information or explanation, please contact Richard Lee at richard.lee@state.co.us or 303-866-3838.

Rita Lambert

State of Colorado

Central Services/Capitol Complex

Parking & Permit Programs Manager

Earlier this morning, Lopez maintains, he spoke to the state's Richard Lee, referenced in the e-mail above, to express his extreme displeasure, "and he talked about security issues, too. He said he would check with the Colorado State Patrol, but he wouldn't get into it with me about it."

Someone may have to do so. Lopez reveals that he's already consulted with attorneys about possibly filing a complaint against the state.

Last year, he says he organized the rally because "the governor was giving his annual state-of-the-state address, and we knew medical marijuana was going to be in it, because legislators would be working on it. And just like any other group or organization, we felt like we should be able to make our voices heard."

The rally didn't attract an enormous throng, but it was well-attended and received a great deal of media attention; Lopez says even the Wall Street Journal gave it a mention. Moreover, the issue of marijuana hasn't gone away just because regulatory measures HB 1284 and SB 109 were signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter this past June.

"At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, we wanted to address the issue of repealing some of the unfair, unreasonable parts of 1284 and 109," he says, adding, "I want to emphasize that we're not radicals. We'd like to see marijuana be tax-free for patients but taxed for adults for responsible consumption" if a cannabis legalization measure planned for 2012 is approved. "But we want common-sense regulation."

Regarding the security-issues claim, Lopez sees it as a red herring. "If they're having security issues, they should be providing us with security," he says, "not denying our community our First Amendment rights."

Thus far, Lopez says he's already gotten commitments to appear at the rally from some of the bigger names in the local marijuana community, including lawyer Rob Corry, the Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, Dr. Robert Melamede and more, and he gets emotional about the idea that it won't take place. "We'll see them in court," he says.

Look below to see photos from the January rally:

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Colorado Springs zoning rule would force closure of 69 MMJ centers."

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