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City prepares for possibly largest 420 Rally ever

8:21 PM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Miguel Lopez has been involved with the celebration of Marijuana in Denver for 29 years. He says getting around 50,000 participants is not unusual.

"We're bracing for over 75,000," said Lopez, coordinator of the 420 Rally in Denver. "We see a lot more people coming this year."

The obvious difference, Lopez says, is the passage of Amendment 64. The bill allows people to possess up to an ounce of pot.

"Now that social acceptance is there, people feel like they can come out and be proud of who they are," Lopez said. "A lot of people have called us and told us they have never been, and this will be their first time."

With more people are more concerns about keeping Civic Center Park from being damaged. Thursday afternoon, Lopez met with Doug Woods, Director of Parks for Denver, and Michael McCown, Parks Superintendent. 

The main concern is grass, and it's not the kind people smoke. Large sections of the grounds have had grass seed freshly planted.

"There's been so much moisture and it is so soft that it is certainly something that is of concern to Denver Parks and Recreation," said Jeff Green, spokesman for parks and rec.

Lopez says rally organizers are greatly concerned about respecting the beauty of the park grounds.

"We are very criticized and because of that, and years past, we have always taken great sense of pride with our city's jewel, Civic Center Park," Lopez said.

Lopez says after the two day event which includes concert and political speeches, rally organizers will power wash the entire sidewalk and pay people to look for and clean up remnants of joints or marijuana smoked at event.

"We simply are a marijuana community that wants to do the right thing," Lopez said.

Public consumption of marijuana is still not legal. But, Officer Aaron Kafer says Denver Police will not be looking to cite every single person smoking pot.

"Our priority is that of public safety," said Kafer, spokesman for Denver Police. "As it has been in years past, we will be using discretion and our focus will be on public safety."

Last year, police officers did issue a few dozen citations for smoking marijuana in public.

Lopez says the biggest thing will be to keep kids from smoking marijuana.

"Anybody with children engaged with marijuana will be arrested for child endangerment," Lopez said. "No one really wants kids getting high."

After the bombings in Boston, Kafer says security will be increased, but officers will be looking to the public for help, as well.

"If you're there and you see something that's suspicious, we want to know about it," Kafer said. "It's part of the campaign, 'if you see something, say something'."

Lopez looks forward to a peaceful event celebrating marijuana and pushing for even more marijuana reform.

"There is a food court. There are lots of booths and vendors here," Lopez said. "So, this isn't just what the people imagine as just a big day of smoke out."

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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