Rob Douglas: Denver pot rally does harm


Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at

Find more columns by Douglas here.

Last Saturday, as elected officials across Colorado continued to wrestle with drafts of laws and regulations implementing Amendment 64, thousands of people gathered in Denver’s Civic Center Park for the annual 4/20 rally protesting laws restricting the use of marijuana.

Evidently, for a certain segment of society, firing up a doobie causes political retardation.

If Miguel Lopez and the other organizers behind last weekend’s 4/20 rally hoped to constructively influence officials across Colorado who are grappling with Amendment 64, they failed.

On the other hand, if the organizers and participants of the annual marijuana smoke-in sought to demonstrate they are anarchists who will defy any law regulating marijuana, they succeeded.

Because of the politically immature and lawless behavior of Lopez and his ilk, it will be harder for responsible proponents of legalized marijuana to convince their elected representatives to implement Amendment 64 as liberally as possible. Just like the Steamboat Springs City Council, dozens of legislative bodies across Colorado will have to decide how to deal with recreational marijuana businesses in the next several months.

Even before three people at the rally were shot and others, including Lopez, were injured by the human stampede following the gunfire, the in-your-face violations of existing drug laws on display at the protest — in spite of Coloradans having passed Amendment 64 — provided visual ammunition to those who warned that the constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana possession and use for adults 21 and older will harm Colorado’s image as a family-friendly state.

The clear message to lawmakers from Lopez and his followers is that they will not abide by any law regulating marijuana. In a lengthy and rambling Jan. 28 press release, Lopez announced the purpose of the 4/20 protest. Here are several excerpts.

“The enduring ambition of the marijuana movement at large is to legalize marijuana by explicitly removing it from the Controlled Substance Abuse Act, decidedly repealing all marijuana laws and releasing current prisoners of the war on marijuana. Amendment 64 did not remove criminal penalties, making concessions for people currently in jail for non-violent marijuana offenses and ignored the 18-21 year old community. ... There should have also been guidelines for the smoking of marijuana in public treating it more like tobacco regulation and the Clean Indoor Air Act.

“The Denver 420 Rally & allies advocate human rights and believes fully that the war on marijuana is a war on poor and marginalized members of the community. Native Americans, Latino Americans, African Americans & poor White Americans have been targeted predominantly in the drug war for nearly a hundred years. The marijuana laws themselves were racist! Worst of all, Amendment 64 was created by the wealthy, for the wealthy, and even more disgusting, for those who made a fortune on the war on marijuana, such as the private prison industry and planet killing fossil fuels, which are one of the reasons marijuana was criminalized in the first place. All of these are violations of human rights.

“The Denver 420 Rally is committed to getting the greed out of weed. We are also committed to getting our voices heard and are committed to ensuring that all of our rights, our human rights, are being considered. … We will continue to develop confidence and educate the large marijuana community on how to be active members of their community through continued contributions and peaceful political actions.

“Stand up with us and show your support and unity for our cause of total freedom for marijuana locally, federally and globally including removing marijuana from the NATO Drug Treaty Act.”

Clearly, Lopez thinks the “enduring ambition of the marijuana movement” — a movement he pretends to lead — is to repeal “all marijuana laws” as a means of achieving “total freedom for marijuana.”

Fortunately, there are civil libertarians across Colorado who support the legalization of marijuana while also recognizing the need for appropriate laws and regulations to protect public safety. Those proponents of incremental and rational legalization will work with their elected representatives to implement Amendment 64.

Unfortunately, those libertarians now will have to spend time distancing themselves from the idiocy of anarchists like Lopez who think exhaling a giant cloud of pot smoke at 4:20 p.m. on April 20 is a winning political tactic.

To reach Rob Douglas, email


max huppert 3 years, 12 months ago

Humm,, better make sure we choose what laws we want to enforce, which would depend on who will get rich and who will get the votes.. always funny that when the people vote, its like oh no they didn't really mean to do that, dont worry big brother will sort it all out for you little sleepy sheep. Keep your eyes closed while we keep letting in the illegals, give them a free phone, food stamps, education, medical. Laws of convenience, the old guard never wants to pass on the power.


mark hartless 3 years, 12 months ago

Selective enforcement of laws is a practice which moves in reverse proportion to a nation's character.

As societys become more ignorant they fail to apprehend the importance of liberty (both their own, and their fellow man's) as well as the imperative of even-handed application of law.

Frustrated by how their neighbors and countrymen choose to use their freedom, the numerous busy-bodies which tend to populate advanced democracies begin to rely on their "leaders" to make numerous laws to reign in what they see as "bad" behavior... not their bad behavior... OTHER folks bad behavior... (ie pot laws, proposals to require guns in homes, proposals to outlaw guns in homes, to ban grocery bags, etc).

The end result of this foolishness is that the sheep themselves construct their own pen, and, in the end, bleat even louder... ""make us your slaves, only feed us."


Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

The Denver pot rally really just showed that Denver still has a big problem with gangs. Last summer a Denver policewoman was killed at a public concert. That was not seen as affecting the music industry, but a local gang violence issue.

As for the anarchist element to the rally, we have people promising to not obey gun laws and the TEA Party protesting tax laws. The rallies, if anything, just show there are people wanting the laws to not be very restrictive. It will have little to no effect on the legislature.

I think the importance of Colorado's legalization efforts can already be seen at the ground level. People have moved here with their ideas on how they will make money. Maybe they think they can make some wonderful pot drink or edible, or will get into the hemp growing or hemp product industry.

In some ways this could be comparable to Silicon Valley in the 1970s where people were playing around with things newly available raw materials (chips or mj/hemp) and playing around with them with some finding popular products that became Apple and so on. The amount of money that people spend on illegal drugs is compared to what is spent on sit down restaurants so when someone hits on a popular crossover product then it could easily be bigger than Coors or our coal mines.


rhys jones 3 years, 12 months ago

Pot doesn't shoot people. People shoot people.

My bet is our culprits weren't up on their bong hits. Otherwise they'd be laughing with their friends, grooving to the tunes.

Outside agitators, is what I think.


john bailey 3 years, 12 months ago

crack pipe Rhys. bong hits no longer work for these wacks. any more research on the ritual? jerry? scott won't play;(


jerry carlton 3 years, 12 months ago

Rhys Probably gun rights activists or NRA members showing that the government has not yet taken their guns. Tonight we will see if the Nuggets are a real threat to go further.


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