Civic Center Park is covered in trash on April 21, 2017, the morning after the 4/20 marijuana event was held at the park in Denver, Colorado. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Denver’s 4/20 organizer appeals three-year ban imposed after trash, noise, health complaints

The organizer of Denver’s 4/20 rally in Civic Center filed an appeal on Friday of the city’s three-year ban, which was imposed after complaints about noise, trash, security, health and other issues.

The written appeal of the ban imposed by the city against the organizer, Miguel Lopez, attempts to refute city complaints and violations.

The ban, announced by the city on May 20 for “substantial violations of city requirements” also included $11,965 in fines and $190 in damages after a review of the 2017 event.

Part of the city’s letter on the ban denounced the event for its handling, or mishandling, of trash.

“Leaving the trash overnight in the park, even if bagged, is not effective or timely removal of trash from the park,” the ban announcement stated.

On the morning of April 21, the day after the event, which was attended by tens of thousands, mounds of garbage were scattered about lawns, sidewalks and a fountain in different areas of the park.

Corry & Associates, a Denver law firm representing Lopez, noted in the appeal letter, that by contract, the event organizer had until 5 p.m. April 21 to clean the area.

“The (ban) Notice… only identifies the timing of the clean-up as somehow ineffective, not the ultimate result, which was that the 4/20 Rally left Civic Center park — once again — cleaner than the Rally received it,” the appeal letter said. “Accordingly, this cannot be a violation, and certainly not a ‘substantial’ one.”

“The park was 100% cleaned up. Within the City’s allotted time. Period. No violation,” the letter said.

Concerning the city’s allegation of noise violations, live entertainment included Grammy-winning talent 2Chainz, the appeal letter states the city relied on “listener’s opinion and nothing more.” Furthermore, those complaints were not made until after the event, when it was too late to take corrective action.

Even if the noise complaint issue were to stand, the violation would be the fault of “Permittee Workers,” stage hands and sound engineers hired for the event, and therefore, not a violation of the “Permittee” (Lopez) himself, the appeal letter argues.

A noise violation at the event should result in a “warning” from the city, not a violation, the appeal said.

The city’s ban also cited safety and security concerns at the 2017 event.

There were no security “incidents, no violence, no injuries” at the event attended by 50,000, according to the appeal letter.

Gunfire was reported, however, and two people were arrested in the area of 15th Street and Cleveland Place, just outside the perimeter of the rally. No one was hit by the gunfire.

In all, five people were arrested at the 4/20 rally and 20 people were written up with civil citations, police said. At the event, at 4:20 p.m., most everyone in the crowd openly smoked marijuana in public, a violation of state law.

An additional complaint and violation brought by the city centers on health violations.

The city identified eight vendors, out of 170, at the event who were allegedly unlicensed, according to the appeal letter. “Initially, all vendors certified they had all appropriate licenses,” the appeal said. Contractors responsible for verifying food vendors licenses “had their contracts terminated” after the city’s Department of Environmental Health raised the unlicensed issue.

“There were no actual problems; no food poisoning, nor other unhealthy or unsafe conditions,” the appeal letter argues.

Finally, the appeal letter argued that the city used a repetitive catch-all violation category to establish the ban. “None of it caused any actual harm to any actual person.”

The appeal letter, signed by Robert J. Corry, Jr., called for an appeal hearing, with identifiable witnesses testifying on record, to be held.

“These alleged violations and the sanction of a three-year ban and loss of Priority Status, cannot and should not be upheld,” the letter said.

Watch The Cannabist Show interview with Santino Walter, producer of the Denver 4/20 rally

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