Apr 20, 2013 11:57 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrations for 4/20, an unofficial holiday celebrating marijuana, were low-key in Colorado Springs when compared to the traditional rally in Denver where thousands attended and violence broke-out when three people were shot.
No large gatherings to smoke pot in public, a traditional staple of 4/20 celebrations, were held in Colorado Springs. The organized festivities took place at the bring-your-own-pot clubs like Studio A64.
"It's just been a mish-mash of liberty and justice for all really after 90-years of prohibition it seems like Colorado has figured out a better model," said KC Stark, part owner of Studio A64.
In the wake of the passage of Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana across the state but has not been fully implemented, many were wondering how law enforcement would respond. At midnight on April 20 the Colorado Springs Police Department sent an alert to officers instructing them on how to handle the holiday. Officers were reminded that possession of under an ounce of pot was legal, the marijuana clubs like Studio A64 and Speak East Vape Lounge are currently allowed and that public display or use of marijuana is illegal. As of late in the evening CSPD had not reported any arrests or situations in relation to 4/20 celebrations.
For Colorado Springs at least, the 4/20 holiday was quiet.
"America has spoken and used we the people power to change and petition our government and we have made that change it really is historic," explained KC Stark.
But, at the rally at the Civic Center in Denver where up to 80-thousand people were expected to gather to smoke pot in public violence broke-out. Just before 5:00 p.m. multiple gunshots were fired in the crowd and three people were hit by the gunfire, all are expected to survive. The shooting caused chaos and sent the thousands attending 4/20 events scrambling.
Marijuana advocates said they feared the violence would draw further criticism from those opposed to legalization. Earlier the group Smart Colorado, which opposes marijuana legalization, sent out a statement saying the 4/20 celebrations gave Colorado a negative image.
"These events, which will be covered by national media, will send a clear message to the rest of the nation and the world about what Colorado looks like in the wake of the passage of Amendment 64 last fall," a Smart Colorado leader said in a statement posted on the group's website.
Local marijuana supporters urged people not to jump to the conclusion that the shooting was directly connected to marijuana use.
"It's tragic, lets find out why and how and then work to prevent it," KC Stark said of the shooting. "We've seen America throughout our history has been a violent yet peace striving country."
Denver Police are still investigating the shooting and are looking for two suspects. One is described as a light-complexioned black male wearing a gray hoody, about six-feet tall and weighing around 180-pounds. The second suspect is described as a black male wearing a black and white checkered shirt.
Events scheduled at Denver's Civic Center to continue 4/20 celebrations on Sunday were canceled by organizers.