Less than a week after two bombs ravaged the Boston Marathon, Colorado is playing host to what is considered the world's largest 4/20 celebration in Denver this weekend.
In previous years, the annual Denver 4/20 Rally at Civic Center Park have brought thousands of visitors to the city. However, concerns are rampant as even more visitors are expected this year, in part because of the festivities surrounding the High Times U.S. Cannabis Cup and in part because of the passing last November of Amendment 64, which allows recreational marijuana use in the Mile High State.
A Denver 4/20 Rally Facebook poll showed that more out-of-state visitors than ever were interested in attending the event, 7News reported. Miguel Lopez, the chief organizer of Denver's 4/20 Rally, said visitors are expected from Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, New York and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.
"Our biggest goal is to ensure everyone is safe in this environment," a Denver Police Department representative, Sonny Jackson, told the Denver Post. "We'll have the necessary number of officers to ensure the safety of the public."
Lopez told 7News that attendees are under strict instructions from local police.
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"The police have been very clear that anybody engaging with children in marijuana, lighters [or] papers is subject to arrest for children endangerment," Lopez said.
Amendment 64 made it legal in the state of Colorado to possess one ounce or less of marijuana, while the drug is still illegal to buy, sell or transport across state lines.
Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown said he is not a fan of the 4/20 celebrations and shared his concerns about public safety.
"I got calls to my office last year about people falling onto Colfax [Avenue] while leaving this event. They were so stoned they couldn't walk," Brown told 7News.
Lopez countered, "It's no different than any other group that participated there with alcohol."
One 7News commenter shared her own concerns, warning 4/20 participants to be safe and wary of a repeat Boston Marathon bombing situation.
"In light of the Boston situation, Denver must be on guard for a repeat. The weekend's Cannibus Cup is international just like the marathon. I hope everyone takes serious precautions to keep themselves safe," AnnPirie wrote. "Please report anything you see that doesn't make sense, no matter how remote it might turn out to be."
According to the Denver Post, 4/20 events in the city last year resulted in 54 arrests, 49 for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.