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Denver wants 4/20 participants to stay off the (other) grass

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Greg Campbell Contributor

Of all the things to make Denver officials fret in the face of what may be the largest pro-marijuana rally in the world on Saturday, grass is high on the list — but not that kind of grass.

With the expectation that as many as 80,000 locals and visitors will descend on Denver’s Civic Center park to smoke marijuana as part of the annual 4/20 celebration, some city council members are worried as much about the park’s landscaping as anything else associated with the controversial event.

Denver recently spent $100,000 to sod the park, which is adjacent to the Colorado Capitol building and ground zero for what will be a massive celebration of Colorado’s recent vote to legalize recreational pot use for adults 21 and up.

However, several days of heavy snowfall has saturated the ground, leading Denver officials to worry that the revelers will turn it into a mud pit.

“There’s going to be some cost involved, and I don’t think the taxpayers should have to bear that cost,” City Councilman Charlie Brown told the Denver Post.

Organizers needed only a no-charge free speech permit for the gathering, not a festival permit, which costs a few thousand dollars and requires a damage deposit.

Other worries include the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal laws and smoking in public is still prohibited, even under Colorado’s new legalization law.

But even the Denver Post weighed in on grass issue, with an editorial asking 4/20 participants to tread lightly.

“We also urge 4/20 participants to be respectful of property that belongs to all Denver residents,” the paper wrote. “Right now, there is legislation pending in Congress, which U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is co-sponsoring, to require the federal government to respect state marijuana laws.”

“It would be a shame to muddy a serious debate over legalizing marijuana with images of a public park that’s been torn up.”

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