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420: Colorado celebrates landmark marijuana holiday

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An internationally observed holiday is coming this Sunday, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus rising from the dead. With the consumption of marijuana for recreational use becoming legal on the first day of 2014, Colorado has seen quite the surge in tourism. The Centennial State will see another rise in out-of-town visitors this weekend as the popular stoner holiday 420 goes down this weekend. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities include a multitude of music acts, the High Times Cannabis Cup, smoking the ganj, and much more.

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On April 20 at 4:20 p.m. every year, thousands of patrons flooding Denver’s Civic Center Park light up their marijuana in whichever fashion they find most appeasing. You’d think the police presence would hinder someone from sparking a joint, but arrests have seldom been made for possession or consumption. Civic Center Park lies in the heart of downtown Denver right in between the State Capitol and City and County building, a large plume of smoke rises from the park in front of all the lawmakers to see and smell.

Depending on whom you ask, the term 420 was coined by a group of high school students in San Rafael, Calif. who chose 4:20 p.m. as the time to meet up after school and smoke a doobie. Another theory sees 420 as police code for someone committing a weed-related crime. Ken Borman, a cannabis activist from Denver, started the very first 420 event in 1985 and has grown exponentially each year thereafter. The 420 rallies of the past have been conducted as protests, but that will change this year now that the drug has been legalized.

Throughout the Denver area, a variety of concerts are happening throughout the weekend including a free show in Civic Center Park. Musical guests include performances from Wyclef Jean, B.O.B., Zion I and more. Hip-hop fans are in for a further treat as other concerts featuring Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Talib Kweli, Method Man and Redman are happening throughout the weekend.

Up until last year’s 420 rally, protests remained civil and peaceful. Three people were shot last year as people were leaving Civic Center Park which police called “an argument between rival gang members.” With vast changes to this year’s rally and the shooting still fresh on many minds, event planners are trying to enforce a weed-free rally. Streets will be closed, security personnel will be added, two stages will take up Civic Center and bags will be checked upon entry. Although consumption of marijuana is legal in Colorado, smoking it in public is not.

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