Daily Dispatches
Carly, left, smokes marijuana with the help of Hunter at the Denver 4/20 pro-marijuana rally at Civic Center Park in Denver on Saturday.
Associated Press/Photo by Brennan Linsley
Carly, left, smokes marijuana with the help of Hunter at the Denver 4/20 pro-marijuana rally at Civic Center Park in Denver on Saturday.

Denver smoke out ends in shootout


Denver’s first legal 4/20 marijuana rally ended Saturday as gunfire erupted and panicked crowds scattered. The unknown assailant shot three people, none of whom sustained life-threatening injuries. 

The rally gathered an estimated 80,000 people, who simultaneously exhaled marijuana smoke at 4:20 p.m. to create a haze over the city’s Civic Center Park.  Shots rang out about 40 minutes later, ending the rally and canceling events planned for Sunday. 

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Denver authorities said Monday they have identified a man wanted in connection with the shooting. The man can be seen walking away from the scene in a video posted on YouTube. Police urged those who attended the rally to share anything they may have seen, photographed, or recorded at the event. 

The spotlight was already on the 4/20 celebrations in Denver before Saturday’s shootings. April 20—chosen because the number “420” is code for cannabis—is a counterculture holiday where marijuana users traditionally gather to smoke pot. However, for the first time in U.S. history, this year’s events in Denver were legal: Last fall, Colorado citizens passed an amendment to the state constitution legalizing the private use of marijuana for adults over 21. 

In addition to the rally, the weekend also boasted the first legal Cannabis Cup on United States soil. High Times Magazine’s Cannabis Cup, undisturbed by the Civic Center shootings three miles away, drew 10,000 people to Denver’s EXDO Event Center. The two-day festival included awards for the top marijuana edibles, concentrates, and hybrids, as well as panel events like, “The Art of Edibles,” “Marijuana War Stories,” and “Colorado’s Revolution/Evolution.” 

At the same time, Colorado continues the tedious process of legalizing a federally restricted substance. Last Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress there was still no official decision on what to do about states legalizing the drug, but “when it come to these marijuana initiatives, I think among the kinds of things we will have to consider is the impact on children.” In addition, he said violence due to trafficking and organized crime also warranted consideration. 

The Colorado legislature is scheduled to take up a controversial bill Thursday addressing the regulation and taxation of the new recreational marijuana industry. At this point, with the reason for Saturday’s shooting unknown, it is unclear whether the event will affect debate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kiley Crossland
Kiley Crossland

Kiley works for an international student and missions organization. She and her husband live on a farm in Boulder, Colo.


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