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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.