America the Beautiful Park will be host to Colorado Springs’ first 4/20 festival Wednesday, to mark what has become a national counter-culture rallying date for legalizing marijuana.
While 4/20 rallies in Denver and Boulder attract thousands to light up in public, organizers of the daylong “Field of Dreamz 4/20 Festival" say public partaking won’t be allowed here, medical marijuana license or not.
“This is not a smoke-out by any means. We are posting throughout the park that consumption of marijuana is still illegal in public areas,” said Travis Ransdell, event manager for Sub Culture Entertainment and Promotions, which is sponsoring the free festival.
The origins of 4/20 are murky – one urban legend says it was the police radio code for marijuana violations. It also reflects the time of day, 4:20 p.m., when users are said to light up.
Ransdell sees the local festival as an educational event, to bring together marijuana providers, doctors, advocates and the public, amidst a backdrop of music, speakers and food, to show that medical marijuana is a legitimate business that helps people.
“I believe personally, when you fuse music with a positive message that is also an intelligent message, that people are more receptive to that message when you have fun entertainment going around. Everyone picks up the message much easier than when you’re just doing a protest,” he said.
He is expecting 1,000 to 4,000 people. There will be 24 medical marijuana centers with booths, so licensed medical marijuana card-holders can talk to representatives and doctors, but there will be no dispensing.
Ransdell said there will be private security to tell people who bring their own medicine to put it out. Police will be called for repeat violators.
City spokeswoman Mary Scott said organizers have a permit, and they are paying to have four off-duty police officers on-hand, something they requested.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Denver organizers hope their celebration of the drug is even bigger this year because it comes on the eve of a major national pot conference in Denver.
Tens of thousands are expected to gather in the downtown park at the annual concert, smoke-off and legalization rally.
This year's event comes the day before the annual convention of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a prominent legalization group marking 40 years. This weekend's conference is drawing most Denver mayoral candidates and Colorado's Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat who favors legalization.