Denver’s 4/20 rally marked by a shooting and record attendance

Greg Campbell | Contributor

The Mile High City was unofficially inaugurated as the marijuana capital of the world over the weekend, even as police searched for two men in connection with a shooting that injured three people during a massive outdoor pot rally.

Shots were fired around 5 p.m. Saturday during a performance by rapper Lil Flip. Two people were hit in the legs and a third grazed by a bullet; none of the injuries are life-threatening.

As with Boston police last week, investigators in Denver scoured photos and amateur video to help identify suspects and persons of interest.

They are looking for two black men, including one who was wearing a gray hoodie and blue baseball cap and another who was wearing a checkered shirt.

The shooting has been turned over the Denver Police Department’s gang unit.

It marked the only trouble during a weekend that was leaden with marijuana smoke at scores of venues where thousands of visitors and locals alike celebrated the historic passage of Amendment 64 in November, which legalized recreational marijuana use by people 21 and older.

The annual rally, which happens in locations throughout the United States every April 20, has historically been to protest federal laws that continue to make marijuana illegal. But with voters having legalized the drug in Colorado and Washington, events in Denver were as much a victory rally as a call for change to federal laws.

The High Times Cannabis Cup, the first non-medical marijuana competition held in the United States in the event’s history, attracted about 10,000, according to the Denver Post.

Turnout was so good that organizers want to expand it and offer two annual events in the future, the magazine’s editor told the newspaper.

“Denver’s got an appealing, small-town atmosphere,” Dan Skye said. “In a town like this, it shows that being fit and smoking marijuana are not mutually exclusive.”

While open displays of marijuana smoking were the most obvious signs of celebration — even though toking in public is still illegal under Colorado’s permissive new law — the weekend also featured education and discussion panels, classes on such things as growing and making hash, numerous concerts and private events.

But as the smoke clears this week, state lawmakers are scrambling to catch up with the times. They have until May 8 to pass a bill regulating recreational marijuana sales and a taxing scheme that must be approved by voters. They’ll also be voting on a controversial measure setting limits for driving under the influence of marijuana.

And — somewhat belatedly — they’re also expected to pass a resolution Monday asking for the federal government’s input into Amendment 64 as they move toward implementing it.

After a weekend in which no one seemed very concerned about the federal government’s 0pinion, the resolution is seen as little more than a formality.

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