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)

With Denver’s ban on 4/20 rally organizer upheld, lawyer vows to fight any similar marijuana event

If there’s a 4/20 rally celebrating marijuana in Denver’s Civic Center Park on April 20, 2018, it will likely be under new management.

An administrative hearing officer on Friday denied longtime event organizer Miguel Lopez’s appeal of a three-year ban and other penalties imposed by the city following the rally’s controversial aftermath this past April.

The city in a statement said they were pleased with the decision by Judge David Ramirez affirming their assessment of the significant health, safety and security concerns surrounding the 2017 event and announced that the April 20, 2018 date at Civic Center Park will be available for permitting on Nov. 21.

However, Lopez’s attorney Robert J. Corry Jr. said Friday that he would be filing in Denver District Court a request for an injunction on permitting for the April 20, 2018 date along with an appeal of the finding of the administrative officer.

“The hearing officer in his findings doesn’t explain this decision or engage in normal analysis of our arguements,” he said. “The ruling is appealable on that ground, certainly.”

He is also considering additional legal actions against the city that could not be raised in the administrative hearing where only the underlying violations could be challenged, Corry told The Cannabist.

“The 420 rally is our trademark,” he said, adding potential legal actions include an injunction against the permitting of any event in Denver on or around the date of April 20 that has the subject matter of cannabis.

“We own that, we invented the 420 rally,” Corry said. “It’s us or nobody.”

Furthermore, the statement Denver released Friday announcing the April 20, 2018 date will be available for permitting is “aiding and abetting a trademark violation and the theft of our intellectual property,” Corry said.

The first year Lopez was granted a permit by the city for an event on April 20 was in 2014, according to city officials.

The phrases “420 Rally” or “Denver 420 Rally” or iterations thereof were not found in an initial review of federal trademark filings.

Corry registered the trade name “420 Rally” with the state on May 22 2017, describing the business conducted as an “event expressing political and cultural viewpoints,” according to Colorado Secretary of State business records. That trade name remains active June 2018.

Other trade names and trademark registrations filed with the state include, “The Annual Denver 420 Rally” trade name filed expired Sept. 1, 2016 and “The Global 420 Rally,” an active state trademark registered to Macon Marques Holdings LLC, state filings show.

The 2017 iteration of Denver’s 4/20 rally was marred by long lines, lax security, fence hopping, and slow trash cleanup that left Civic Center trashed on the morning after the event.

After conducting a review of the 2017 event, the city announced the ban on May 20, citing “substantial violations of city requirements,” including noise complaints, untimely trash removal, limited security staff, unlicensed food vendors and street closures. In addition to the ban, the city levied $11,965 in fines and $190 in damages, and revoked Lopez’s “priority event” status with the city, a qualification given to a permittee who has run the same event at the same park on the same date, weekend or holiday for two consecutive years or more.

Lopez appealed the penalties, and during a two-day hearing in mid-September, Corry argued that his client met the terms of his permit agreement and that the city’s three-year ban was “overreach.”

The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace contributed to this report

Read the decision by Denver Parks and Recreation upholding the ban

Parks and Rec 420 Hearing 111717 CarmodyCorry (Text)