A cloud of smoke rises above the crowd at the annual 4/20 rally in Civic Center Park on April 20, 2012. (Daniel Petty, Denver Post file)

Editorial: An ominous clash over Denver 4/20 rally permit

The organizers of this year’s 4/20 marijuana rally at Civic Center in Denver seem determined to provoke city officials into denying their request for a permit. Why else would they proclaim a bogus right to break the law by using pot at the event?

Many 4/20 participants do of course smoke pot at the rally — or at least have in the past. And obviously the same behavior can be expected this year as well.

But it’s one thing for 4/20 sponsors to request a permit for a rally at which pot consumption is likely to occur and over which they apparently have little control, which is what happened in the past. It’s quite another thing for 4/20 sponsors to insist they have the right to smoke pot at Civic Center during the rally, that it’s legal under their interpretation of the law and that they basically intend to encourage it.

Coverage of all things 4/20

That’s what Robert Corry, an attorney for the event, proclaimed in a truculent letter to the city last week. Corry declared that an entity with a festival permit in Civic Center meets Amendment 64’s definition of occupying, owning or controlling property and can regulate the use of marijuana within that area on its own.

Corry’s version of Amendment 64 is, to put it gently, implausible. And it’s not his first foray into creative revisionism when it comes to the amendment.

Editorial: A one-day amnesty for public pot smoking?

The Denver Post’s Jon Murray reported Thursday that “city officials are weighing whether they will issue a permit to use Civic Center” given Corry’s assertions. They believe they have a legal obligation to take a fresh look.

If they do deny the permit, however, we’d hope other 4/20 supporters are allowed to come forward to request a permit for a similar or equivalent event who refrain from Corry-like edicts regarding marijuana consumption.

No realist expects the 4/20 rally to go away, or for pot use at it to disappear. It would be far better for the rally to occur with legal sanction than for tens of thousands of pot enthusiasts to descend upon Civic Center on April 20 in an unregulated free-for-all.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com