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Signatures, and message, delivered to Denver City Hall: End 4/20 rally

Author: Dan Njegomir - May 18, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017

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Results are in from the Centennial Institute‘s petition drive to stick a fork in the annual 4/20 pot fest that takes over downtown Denver’s Civic Center Park every April 20, reports Denverite’s Adrian Garcia. Jeff Hunt, the director of the conservative Christian think tank based at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, dropped off more than 4,000 signatures today at Denver City Hall calling on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to nix the rallies in the future.

You’ll recall Centennial — not a fan of Colorado’s experiment with legal recreational marijuana to begin with — had launched its petition drive after this year’s 4/20 event. It not only stirred up the usual rehash of the legalization debate but also left a ton of trash. Complaints came in from various quarters of the community, and Hancock promised the city would review policies and procedures for granting the rally a permit in future years.

It’s not clear what, if any, influence Centennial’s petition could have on that review process, but the effort did net a number of prominent and semi-prominent conservative voices from the political pantheon. Garcia recaps some of them:

The petition was signed by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, former first lady of Colorado, Frances Owens; Assistant Minority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, Cole Wist, a Centennial Republican; Sen. Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican; Rep. Susan Beckman, a Littleton Republican, Rep. Timothy Leonard, an Evergreen Republican; Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, a Highlands Ranch Republican and Colorado developer Walter “Buz” Koelbel, according to Hunt.

As we observed when the petition drive began, Hunt, Centennial and their following may get their way in any event, when all is said and done. Meaning, with or without City Hall’s blessing, the 4/20 rally might fade away on its own. And even if it manages to stick around, it could morph into some sort of generic street festival unrecognizable to its original organizers. That’s based on some insights Denverite’s Garcia dug up in a report on the rally itself:

Legalization split the cannabis community’s perception of Denver’s big 4/20 event. Key people who in past years joined the rally in Civic Center Park are now involved in promoting the industry and have abandoned the annual event and even admonish its participants.

Maybe the rally — once a show of defiance and a stand for reform — is now ho-hum? Is 4/20 becoming a victim of its own success?

Arguably, a rally for the right to smoke weed more than four years after Colorado’s statewide vote legalizing (and heavily regulating) its recreational use could be almost as passé as a wine-tasting that’s themed to denounce Prohibition.

So, here’s the real question: Will someone, someday observe “in cannabis veritas”? That’s when pot truly will have arrived.

Assuming anyone at that point still knows a bit of Latin.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.