Marijuana smoke rises from Norlin Quad during the 4/20 celebration at the University of Colorado on April 20, 2010. (Mark Leffingwell, Daily Camera file)

After 3 years of closures, CU-Boulder to keep campus open on 4/20

The University of Colorado will keep the Boulder campus open to the public on 4/20 this year for the first time since it began shutting implementing April 20 closures on the marijuana holiday in 2012.

In a letter posted to CU’s website, Chancellor Phil DiStefano said he felt that a lack of activity on 4/20 in the past three years prompted the decision to keep the campus open this year.

“I told you last year that I hoped campus closures would not be necessary in the near future and that we could go about our daily business on April 20 as we would any other day,” DiStefano wrote. “That time has come.”

While the campus will be open, CU’s Norlin Quad — which has been the epicenter of the smokeout that in past years has drawn 10,000 people — still will be closed on the afternoon of April 20, and entering the quad could still result in trespassing charges.

A Boulder District Court judge ruled in 2012 that CU had the right to close the campus to the public on 4/20, and the campus has been closed to anyone who is not a student or employee on April 20 every year since. The number of people who smoked on campus has also dropped every year.

“After three years of closing the campus to non-affiliates, the public understands that we are serious about eliminating this gathering that disrupted the academic mission of the university,” DiStefano wrote. “At the same time, there are now several sanctioned events occurring April 18-20 around the Denver metro region for people to attend. We have made great strides over the past three years, and I thank all of you for your patience and cooperation in helping us toward that goal.”

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, or

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