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Undercover Denver Police Crash Private Cannabis Party, Issue Public-Use Citations

The Denver Police Department used undercover officers to infiltrate the International Church of Cannabis’ inaugural 4/20 event, leading to public consumption citations for three of the church’s founders, according to an ABC-7 report. None of the parishioners attending the opening day ceremony were cited.

The 4:20 pm ceremony on 4/20 was an invite-only, private event, at which guests had to show identification to attend. According to Steve Burke, one of the church’s founders, two officers had managed to get on the list ahead of time and a third was able to sneak into the event when the door was guarded only by Berke’s 72-year-old mother. Burke said the two officers who made the list had used aliases and other officers had detained the private security guards for the event because one of them didn’t have identification.

Burke said the founders did not receive the citations until several days after the event, noting that none of the party guests were cited for public consumption. He called the citations “horse shit” and accused the police department of “selectively enforcing the law.”

“If you go to a wedding, that doesn’t make the wedding a public event, it makes you a wedding crasher,” Burke said in the report, adding that it seems “like the city attorney has a vendetta.”

Marley Bordovsky, the city attorney, argued that if someone could just walk into the party – as one of the officers did – the event is not considered truly private.

“Whether a venue is public or private is a case-by-case analysis of whether it’s private or not,” she said. “It clearly wasn’t a truly-private event – that was the test.”

There is no religious exemption to bypass the public consumption law under the state’s adult-use regime.

Burke said he and the other founders are “considering legal options.” They are due in court next week.

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