DENVER (AP) — Once the province of activists and stoners, the traditional pot holiday of April 20 has gone mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
Tens of thousands gathered for a weekend of Colorado cannabis-themed festivals and entertainment, from a marijuana industry expo called the Cannabis Cup at a trade center north of downtown, to 4/20-themed concerts at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater — acts include Slightly Stoopid and Snoop Dogg — to a massive festival at Civic Center Park, in the shadow of the state capitol, where clouds of cannabis smoke are expected to waft at 4:20 p.m. MDT Sunday.
Festivities were getting off to a slow start on Sunday. At noon, as bells from the Catholic cathedral a few blocks away rang out over downtown to signal the end of Easter services, only a few hundred people milled around Civic Center Park. The smell of marijuana was detectable, but mild.
The Civic Center Park event is the most visible sign of the pot holiday's transformation. It started as a defiant gathering of marijuana activists, but this year the event has an official city permit, is organized by an events management company and featured booths selling funnel cakes and Greek food next to kiosks hawking hemp lollipops and glass pipes.
Gavin Beldt, one of the organizers, said in a statement that the event is now a "celebration of legal status for its use in Colorado and our launch of an exciting new experience for those attending. "
Denver is just one of many cities across the country where 4/20 marijuana celebrations are planned Sunday. Elsewhere, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said his officers would be cracking down on illegal parking, camping, drug sales, underage drinking and open alcohol containers at Golden Gate Park's Hippie Hill. Officials don't want the unofficial pot holiday to disrupt Easter Sunday activities in the park