Anti-Legalization Organizations Take Action Following Denver’s 4/20 Celebration

4/20 came and went this year in a flurry of legalization celebrations and pot smoke, but not everyone got their kicks out of the unofficial holiday, reports The Denver Post. Anti-marijuana legalization groups Smart Colorado and Project SAM acted swiftly in retaliation to Denver’s 4/20 celebrations, during which police issued 92 citations for public marijuana consumption despite a coordinated 4:20 p.m. toke-up by thousands of marijuana supporters.

The Justice Department announced earlier this year that it would not interfere with the legalized cannabis industries of Colorado and Washington, given a few stipulations such as marijuana not being distributed across state borders and not being made readily available to minors.

Nonetheless, some groups with ambitions for the continued prohibition of marijuana are continuing to fight. “The messages we are sending our youth are deeply concerning. Getting high is being encouraged, celebrated and glorified,” read one complaint by Rachel O’Bryan, spokeswoman for Smart Colorado. A statement from the organization targeted the disregard for state law demonstrated by 4/20 celebrators, and announced that Colorado’s cannabis industry, through inaction and a failure to prevent public consumption on 4/20, had “willfully betrayed many of their Amendment 64 supporters.”

“This past weekend we saw marijuana users and folks from the industry openly flouting the laws by consuming pot in public,” O’Bryan said in the statement. “If Denver can’t enforce its own ordinances because of the enormity of the task and lack of cooperation from the marijuana industry, then none of our residents or visitors are adequately protected.”

Additionally, on the day following the celebration, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy said in a conference call with reporters that he’d already met with representatives from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and urged for federal intervention with marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado.

Kennedy presumedly presented data gathered by anti-legalization group Project SAM about Colorado that suggests a rise in marijuana-related problems in that state. One report showed a rise in marijuana-positive workplace drug test results. Another noted an increase in postal seizures in cases where individuals were attempting to ship marijuana over state borders. And yet another report noted two recent deaths in Colorado in which marijuana’s involvement is suspected: in one case, a man shot and murdered his wife after allegedly consuming marijuana along with other pharmaceuticals, and in the other case, a 19-year old jumped to his death from a hotel balcony after eating six times the recommended amount of pot cookies.

“The president and the attorney general, now that we’re getting this new information, have a better ground to say, ‘Well we gave this a chance. Now we’re going to change our approach here,’” Kennedy said.

Recent announcements from Attorney General Eric Holder in representation of the Obama administration, however, seems to demonstrate that opposite sentiments are present at the federal level. And even though DEA Chief Michele Leonhart is continuing her campaign against legalization, recent headlines have suggested that some sort of federal action toward marijuana law reform may not be too far off in our future.

Meanwhile, cannabis industry officials had undergone efforts to distance themselves from Denver’s expectedly-large 4/20 celebration.  The Marijuana Industry Group even released an official statement two days prior, saying that it was not connected to any of the celebratory events taking place that weekend. The news release also included warnings about the illegality of both public cannabis consumption and providing marijuana to minors.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Piccolo

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