One Denver 420 Rally Lawsuit Tossed, More Promised

One of the revelers at last month's Mile High 420 Fest.
One of the revelers at last month's Mile High 420 Fest. Photo by Kenzie Bruce
After Miguel Lopez was refused a permit last year for the Denver 420 Rally, which he's put on annually since 2008, following complaints about Civic Center Park being trashed, attorney Rob Corry filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver on his behalf. Then, after Michael Ortiz was awarded the permit only to see it subsequently handed to Euflora, a local dispensary, Corry sued Denver in his name, too.

Now, in the wake of Euflora's Mile High 420 Fest at Civic Center, an April 20 bash that generated little controversy but double the number of pot citations from the previous year, Ortiz's suit has been thrown out, and Corry is no longer representing Lopez in the matter. But Lopez says he's got a new attorney working on the case and "absolutely" plans to file a new complaint that's currently in the drafting stage.

Following the decision to ban Lopez from hosting the Civic Center rally for at least three years, city officials came up with a new process for applying to put on a 4/20 event. To ensure that his representatives would be first in line last November 21, the day the permit would be issued, Euflora's Bobby Reginelli assigned employees to camp out at the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation office tasked with issuing the paperwork.

When the big day came, Ortiz, a Lopez associate, managed to get past the Euflora crew and was awarded the permit. But his victory proved temporary. Parks and Rec director Allegra "Happy" Haynes concluded that Ortiz had gained entry into the building because he'd lied about having "applications for other parks" and awarded the permit to Euflora.

This past January, Corry filed the Ortiz suit, but on May 2, he says, "the Denver District Court dismissed it. Basically, the court reasoned that because it was a pending permit and not a real permit, Mr. Ortiz couldn't challenge it."

Attorney Rob Corry and Denver 420 Rally co-founder Miguel Lopez have parted company, sort of — but also sort of not. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
Attorney Rob Corry and Denver 420 Rally co-founder Miguel Lopez have parted company, sort of — but also sort of not.
Photo by Michael Roberts
He stresses, "We respectfully disagree with that. The Happy Haynes letter to Mr. Ortiz said the permit was being revoked, and you can't revoke something that never existed in the first place."

At this point, Corry is noncommittal about an appeal: "We're still evaluating what we're going to do next."

In the meantime, Corry confirms that the Lopez lawsuit against the city has been withdrawn. And while Corry continues to represent Lopez with regard to a municipal citation related to the 4/20 rally and another matter he can't discuss because of a gag order, the two have parted company over the Denver complaint. He characterizes the reason as "strategic differences."

If Lopez decides to sue Euflora, however, Corry is ready to go — and he says his argument would be based on the concept of "unjust enrichment. Basically, Euflora built on the legacy that Miguel Lopez and others had created over the past ten years. They just used our entire event. It had the same look, the same feel, the same smell. They even used our same headliner, Lil Wayne. It was pretty much a carbon copy from top to bottom — and it would be interesting to see if the law allows that sort of straight-up duplication."

These observations are echoed by Lopez. In his view, "The only thing that was different was the turnout," which Euflora estimated in a tweet at 70,000; Lopez and company say their rally attracted 100,000 people in recent years. "Everything they did, they learned from me. People didn't want to sign for the permit when marijuana was illegal; they were afraid of having their name on a list. But now, everybody wants it. It's become a commodity, because people have gotten lost in the green rush. It's the nouveau riche, like in The Great Gatsby."

Lopez is doing more than preparing for lawsuits these days. "We'll be announcing soon what we're going to be doing in 2019," he says. "The only thing I can tell you right now is, it's big."
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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