The Rocky Mountain High may never come down again after this April 20th marijuana smoke-a-thon in Denver.
The "420" marijuana holiday is expected to draw more than 50,000 pot enthusiasts to Denver's Civic Center Park this Saturday, April 20, who will celebrate marijuana and its legalization for recreational use in Colorado and Washington last November.
The numbers of marijuana enthusiasts in Denver are expected to be larger than ever partially due to the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 and over, and also because High Times magazine is holding its world-renown Cannabis Cup marijuana competition in Denver on 4/20 -- the first time that the annual recreational pot festival, usually held in Amsterdam, has been held in the United States.
At EXDO Event Center, just a couple miles away from Civic Center Park, thousands are expected to attend the High Times event as judges from around the world vote for the best in marijuana strains (Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, Hash), coffeeshops (Nederhash, Import Hash) as well as glass, booths, and marijuana-based products and award the most outstanding in each category with the coveted Cannabis Cup.
This year, the festivities begin April 19 when according to the Associated Press, High Times plans on presenting Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg) a "lifetime achievement" award, however it's unclear if Snoop Lion himself will be in attendance -- the event page bills it as an "Evening with Snoop Lion" with details to be announced. On 4/20, High Times has a full day of activities planned in Mile High City followed by a closing concert featuring performances by Cypress Hill and Slightly Stoopid at Red Rocks Saturday night. Click here for a full schedule.
Unfortunately for latecomers the High Times event has been sold out for weeks.
At last year's 25th annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project and former co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol -- one of the key players in marijuana's legalization in Colorado -- was crowned the High Times Freedom Fighter for his work on legalization.
Denver is an ideal location for High Times' pot party because Colorado's new marijuana laws are, in some ways, more liberal than Amsterdam's famed laws. In Colorado, adults can grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use -- with no more than three plants flowering at a given time -- whereas in Amsterdam, the growing of marijuana by an individual for personal use is illegal.
Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law and although Amendment 64's regulatory framework has not been set up for adults to buy or sell pot just yet, adults can posses up to an ounce of marijuana and can gift the drug to another adult. It is also illegal under Colorado law to smoke pot in public, but law enforcement generally tends to ignore those laws at festivals like the one in Denver's Civic Center Park.
High Times has held the Medical Cannabis Cup -- an event which celebrates the medical marijuana community and movement -- on U.S. soil, the first of which was held in San Francisco in 2010, then in Denver in 2011 and was back in the Bay Area again at Richmond, Calif., in 2012.
Denver crowds will likely also be bolstered by CU-Boulder's clamp down of the 4/20 smoke-out that used to take place at Norlin Quad on campus for the second year in a row. Before university officials began closing the campus to visitors on April 20th, the school's famed 4/20 marijuana celebration drew the nation's largest crowd at a college in 2010, estimated at 10,000 people.
The origin and mythology behind the "420" holiday is as long and strange of a trip as a Grateful Dead song, for a detailed history of the day, read Ryan Grim's excellent piece "How 'Weed Day' Got Its Name."
For a full list of where to party in Denver on 4/20, check out Westword's recommendations from pot critic William Breathes.