By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– It was billed as the world’s largest and free marijuana festival. Thousands turned out in Denver’s Civic Center Park to celebrate on Thursday, the day known as 4/20.

While recreational and medical marijuana are legal to sell in Colorado, consuming it in public is not. Large electric signs put up by the city reminded people of the law.

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Those warnings didn’t seem to have much of an effect as thousands brought and smoked marijuana openly in a fenced off area of the park.

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The organizer of the event, Miguel Lopez, said the festival goers had a legal right to use it there.

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“This is the culture that has been here long before legalization or organization,” said Lopez.

A spokesperson for the Denver Police said it is definitely not legal. One attendee from Dallas told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger he thought unlike where he lives, it is okay to use pot in public.

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PHOTO GALLERY: 4/20 Rally In Civic Center Park

Each person entering was searched, more for weapons than drugs. There was a shooting at the festival four years ago.

Park Rangers moved through the crowd, but the police kept a very low profile. Police in Denver told CBS4 there were some arrests but the crowd was relatively peaceful.

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While the festival was labeled a political event, it looked a lot more like a marijuana convention. Booths with exhibitors selling goods had been set up throughout the park.

Dominique Delucca of the company Dank showed CBS4 different products that included bath balm and more.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“So we’re selling CBD-infused bath balms and marijuana apparel,” she said.

Her booth was located next to one selling bongs. What began many years ago as an informal smoke-in has become a part of Colorado’s growing pot business, but organizer Lopez plays that down.

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“This is the grass roots of the movement, not the corporate, it’s we the people,” said Lopez.

The pinnacle of the festival, as always, came at exactly 4:20 p.m. under cloudy skies when the crowd counted down the seconds to the time that matched the date.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

  1. Mark Weber says:

    We need to not let the potheads celebration overshadow the gravity of this day. 4/20 needs to be set aside as a day of somber remembrance for what happened at Columbine 18 years ago. I’m sure whoever in the Denver city government issues permits for such gatherings, has the discretion to not book a pot party on Denver city grounds on the same date our community suffered this tragedy.