Denver approves permit for pot event

The Denver Parks and Recreation Department has recently approved a park permit for an event celebrating marijuana. Colorado Confidential has learned that pot  proponents are planning an organized festival in Denver’s Sunken Gardens Park on April 20, the first such “4-20” event to be sanctioned by city.Miguel Lopez, an advocate for Latinno and marijuana-legalization issues in Denver, applied for the permit and says that the planned event will feature myriad speakers and eclectic music.

“4-20” is a day traditionally celebrated by pot supporters as a day to smoke marijuana, sometimes in public as an action of civil disobedience. On the same date last year, a crowed gathered in Denver’s Civic Center Park in front of the state Capitol building to smoke and pay tribute to Ken Gorman, a marijuana activist who led previous “4-20” rallies. Gorman was found murdered in his home on February 17, 2007.

Lopez knew Gorman and says they were planning to submit a permit making “4-20” an official event before his death.

“It was a devastating blow to me,” says Lopez, about Gorman’s murder. “We were excited to plan the first official event.”

Now the Denver Parks and Recreation Department has approved a permit for the festival, and Lopez says other technical issues like bathrooms and trash receptacles are being planned now. Denver permits are usually given on a first-come, first-served basis, although a new proposal could change city law to give the government “first dibs” on picking permits.

When asked if he’s worried about police arresting event attendees, Lopez says that he’s not going to rule out people smoking marijuana at the event as an act of “civil disobedience,” but Lopez also notes that he will be strongly discouraging youths under the age of 18 from attending the event.

The Denver Parks and Recreation Department was closed today, and representatives could not be reached for comment at this time.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at