University of Colorado, Boulder Tries to Shut Down Annual 4/20 Smoke-Out

 At University of Colorado, Boulder, it is 4/20 tradition for thousands of students to gather in a field near campus for a smoke-out.  This year, however, the school has threatened participants with fines, among other sanctions, for participating in the massive marijuana protest.

From the Associated Press:

The pungent smell of pot that blankets a popular quadrangle at the University of Colorado-Boulder every April 20 is being replaced by the stench of fish-based fertilizer Friday as administrators try to stamp out one of the nation's largest annual campus celebrations of marijuana.

After more than 10,000 people — students and non-students — attended last year's marijuana rally on Norlin Quadrangle, university officials decided this year to apply the stinky fertilizer to the quad to deter pot-smokers. They're also closing the campus Friday to all unauthorized visitors and offering a free campus concert by Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean timed to coincide with the traditional 4:20 p.m. pot gathering.

Campus police officers will be stationed at school entrances, allowing in only those with university IDs or permission. Anyone on campus without proper ID could be ticketed for trespassing, which carries a maximum $750 fine and up to six months in jail, said campus police spokesman Ryan Huff.


A larger rally is planned for Denver near the state capitol on Friday and Saturday. Police have suggested they'll be taking a hands-off approach to the gathering, which could draw tens of thousands of people, said chief organizer Miguel Lopez.

According to the Colorado Daily, Occupy Boulder participants said in a General Assembly that the "police lockdown" suppresses First Amendment rights to peaceful protest, and that  a march and Courthouse lawn smoke-out is planned in response. Occupy Boulder protester Lee Buchsbaum reportedly said, "It's your 4/20; it's your day. If you believe in marijuana rights, if you believe it should be legal and regulated like alcohol, go outside."

That Buschbaum compared regulating marijuana to alcohol is no coincidence. In Colorado, the legalization initiative "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Tobacco" will go to the ballot vote this  November. Billboards with phrases like "For many reasons, I prefer marijuana over alcohol...does that make me a bad person?" aim to evidence how harsh pot laws punish people who choose to engage in a safer alternative to alcohol or cigarettes. The “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Tobacco” initiative  got a big push this Monday, when the Colorado Democratic Party officially endorsed the amendment.  A Public Policy Polling survey this November found that 49% of Coloradans supported legalization, while 40% opposed it.

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne and Angela Lee

Posted at April 20, 2012, 7:04am

Today's Top Stories