Perspectives on the Denver "420" Disruption

Denver 420 rally, while it lasted (facebook.com/pages/420-Rally/104447806260934)
Yesterday's historic "420" rally in Denver, the first since Colorado voted to legalize marijuana last fall, was marred and cut short by violence. Two unidentified gunmen shot and wounded three people -- two attendees were shot in the leg and were rushed to a nearby hospital with "non-life-threatening-injuries," and a teen was grazed by a bullet and walked there, according to the Denver Post. Attendees fled the scene, and the remainder of the event as well a smaller one planned for today were canceled.

It was not the kind of day those three people or their friends had planned, and that's the most important thing to keep in mind. It was also not the kind of day that thousands attending including many who traveled from afar had planned either. It's lucky there were no trampling injuries, at least no serious ones, apparently.

Without forgetting what's most important -- the people most directly affected -- it's also worth noting that this is obviously not the kind of headline that legalization advocates wanted. The story had the top spot on Google News for a time last night, and continues to hold front page placement as I write this. That's an unfortunate accomplishment, particularly after the grim and violent week we just lived through. But does it hurt the cause?

After looking through news reports, I don't think so. The only criticism of the idea of the rally was from a Colorado anti-marijuana group, appearing well toward the end of the article. Most of it was sympathetic reporting about the victims, about organizers cooperating with police, police looking for information on the suspects, who the musical acts were, how police even before Amendment 64 passed had focused on crowd safety rather than marijuana enforcement during Denver's 420 events. I have not yet seen any quotes suggesting that marijuana use had any connection to the violence, though I've not done an exhaustive search.

Of course there's an opportunity cost from this unfortunate story replacing the story we'd hoped for of legal marijuana becoming a mainstream, accepted reality. And it's hard to know whether the coverage reflects maturation on the part of the media's treatment of the marijuana issue, vs. the violence forcing things into perspective. But I lean toward the former, and there's some comfort from seeing marijuana reformers and public safety personnel so clearly on the same side. At least that's how it looks from a distance. Our movement is part of larger society, and we are vulnerable to all the same dangers.

Let's hope the victims' injuries are no worse than reported, and for their swift recovery.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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One fine day in the near future.

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Bleeorg?  Weeeeee! Hey maaaaaan...I think somebody got shot. puff puff pass. Yeah?  Yeah.

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did somebody get shot? puff puff pass. What? Huh? puff puff pass. Let's buy another joint, man. Yeah.  And screw that crappy legal crap, man. I don't want to pay no Government tax, man.  I can dig it. Let's hit up George for another bit o' that super kind kush, man. Yean maaaaaan.

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Idiot ^^

derrrr derrrr who did I bang last night? I was 2 drunk 2 remembr... derrrr.... guess it's time to beat the wife again derrrr... man i got a hangover...

Every single anti-pot argument can be turned right back in their faces.

It's time to stop the politically correct BS and publicly humiliate the prohibitionists.

I appreciate the efforts here, but it's time to step it up. If we don't step it up, the prohibitionists will ruin millions more lives.

First let me say there are normally shady people in that park

Helter Skelter? By Grant Gaffey As I strolled through the first ever 420 festival in denver under the most comprehensible set of marijuana laws the country has ever known I noticed a less diverse crowd there than I had imagined , now that pot is legal. I saw some folks there who appeared to be the gangbanger type, and I hate to use stereotypes, especially when it comes to the drug culture except the phrase, 'fuckin hippies..'. But after a few minutes, this difference seemed almost to disappear in clouds of pot smoke and camaraderie. A few of us even took some unrighteous pot shots at the evangelist with the megaphone warning us that if we continue our evil ways we would surely be spending a lot of time at the lake of fire. Just as I was getting rolling with this guy, suggesting he find himself a millstone and whotnot, I had to go to work. I dont smoke grass anymore since I am on probation and even though the judge said she didn't care' if I used medical marijuana, my probation officer did. The world is not ready for outright criminals such as myself to smoke pot, even if the judge doesn't 'care'. I work at an apartment building on 11th and sherman though and I was gardening in the front so it didn't take long to catch wind of the fact that the epic smokeout had been broken up by a senseless act of violence in the form of some sort of shooting. I asked everybody walking by what had happened and got a variety of different stories, first the guy was a chulo, some latino gangbanger, then when I went to what was left of the gathering to gather more information I heard he was black. Interestingly enough, when I got to the credible news sources he was grafted somewhere in between, “a light skinned african american”, as opposed to a dark skinned skandinavian-american, I suppose. Left to my own devices I had little choice but to assume that it was a conspiracy. A disgruntled conservative with a history of mental illness believed he was contacted by the ghost of Charles Manson and was persuaded to incite a post apocalyptic drug war. No other story seemed plausible. Regardless, that is doubtless going to be a source of fodder for the fringe conservatives who would let the Amish ban all farm implements in America if they only had a democratic majority, I digress.. What can I say, I am angry about this. Not as angry as I am about the Boston Marathon bombing, by proxy, but this is personal to me. I had my signage all made up, “This drug is known to the state of Colorado to kill fascism”, and other similarly biased slogans, but damn.. I just couldn't see this coming. One of the people I asked as they were walking by where I was gardening said that two years ago there was a similar shooting at the 420 fest, gang related. Now I have always been for cutting the legs out from under the black market but not as much as I am today, never so literally. It is easy to get emotional about something like this, when somebody takes a crap on your dreams, but then again, they have proved nothing we didn't already know; that there are problems in our society which are not our faults'. We did not invite the shooter to the party, our government did. Brian Wilson, Richard Nixon- who would have thought they had so much in common?

Your comment is too long ,I

Your comment is too long ,I lost interest . Being 50 and walking around the park in the earlier hours had many different people,it seems the younger set showed up at 420 . The problem I had was not hippie gang bangers,it was the actual gang bangers selling pot that was a problem for me. Some scary groups of guys holding THEIR turf. There should be more control by the organizers and keep he criminal element out,they do not own the movement we all do. Prohibition anyone ? Laws change with time.

That problem will be solved by next year's 420

As the regulations are set for legal selling and the licenses are given out, and people can buy from legal stores, there will be less people selling on the street (or park), and anyone who does sell will neither be selling to that many people nor making much of a profit, so they won't be defending any kind of turf in an intimidating way.

Glad to see that post from a CO resident.

ANY idiot prohibitionist needs to be slammed for even invoking the sort of logic that would blame cannabis legalizaion for a gang-related shooting. Prohibition fuels gang activity in the first place.

Also, these idiot prohibitionists needs to be asked, "How about we ban marathons now, since disaster could happen? Better yet, how about we happily give up our right to public assembly since there could be a disaster. How about schools? We can't protect our children from crazed murderers going on rampages..."

Get in their faces. It's time to put up or shut up. But please keep it non-violent.

And as a Christian, I would love to become a force against these ministers who twist the teachings of Jesus. This is too much for me to bear.

I think in the long run

I think in the long run, this unfortunate incident won't have much impact on the movement... although most news outlets did try to make Marijuana users look bad with some of the quotes they reported... like the "anxiety" guy, that was somewhat embarrassing.  

My conspiracy theory

Did you notice that the Boston Marathon bombing occurred exactly 20 years minus 4 days after the April 19, 1993 Waco fire massacre?  Well timed to put the threat of violence over the first triumphant 4/20 celebration, and produce gunshots which could be blamed on cannabis somehow in the media.  AND, days later, an unexplained fire and deadly explosion near... WACO, to underline the connection for anyone who missed it?

Gun culture

America has a serious problem.When a pro pot rally is the scene of a shooting,a serious problem.Violence is the last thing I want to have anything to do with when I smoke.Then again,the Afghans toke in lulls in the fighting all the time.It used to confuse the hell out of the Canadian guys over there.Not that this had anything to do with pot.Unless some pro prohibition looney was trying to make a point?Like the guy that shot at the WH.When there are more guns than people and they are easy to get your hands on.How long till someone in a bad mood or a rage gets down and shoots someone else?Prohibition and guns go together like white on rice.

You can't use the same rules

You can't use the same rules as alcohol because it's not as easy for the police to test. There's no simple breathalyzer the police have available. There are some serious complications in treating the two substances the exact same. It's also a lot easier to tell if someone is drunk than if they're hi on something.

I think this is an

I think this is an informative post and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article

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