DENVER (CBS4) – Keeping Civic Center Park safe this weekend is a high priority for law enforcement after the celebration was cut short when shots rang out last year.

April 20, or “4/20,” has become the unofficial marijuana holiday. Thousands gathered in the park last year but the celebration ended after somebody fired a gun.

Organizers are expecting 80,000 people a day over the weekend, and they, as well as the city and the state, will be making sure there’s more manpower than ever for the sake of safety.

The rally is the first since marijuana became legal for adults over 21.

“We have many officers that are going to be working and they’re going to be visible in the areas,” Raquel Lopez with Denver police said.

Last year’s 4/20 rally erupted in violence with three people shot in a gang-related melee. This year extra police officers will be stationed at Civic Center Park. Denver Health will staff additional nurses and techs in the emergency room, with more on standby. And event organizers dug into their pockets to provide emergency responders for the event.

PHOTO GALLERY: 4/20 Shooting At Civic Center Park

“We paid $8,000 to Denver Health to have four bike paramedics roaming the park and an ambulance on site and a first-aid trailer,” organizer Miguel Lopez said.

Miguel Lopez says participants will feel the added security presence. He says it’s their job to anticipate anything that could go wrong.

“There will be four checkpoints, entrances around the park, and there will be release valves in the event of an unlikely emergency people can get out,” Miguel Lopez said.

State agencies, including the Colorado Department of Transportation and Public Safety, are also on board.

“We have law enforcement officers who are specially trained drug recognition experts. So they will be out and about this weekend and certainly looking for folks,” CDOT spokesperson Amy Ford said.

It’s all part of the collective effort to encourage responsible behavior within the framework of the law.

CDOT will be stationed outside the Cannabis Cup handing out fliers to remind people of the laws regarding pot. Namely, that those who drive high will get a DUI.

More 4/20 Stories


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