By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – The battle over the rights to Denver’s 420 Rally is heading to Denver District Court.

The fight began after garbage was scattered all over Civic Center Park at the most recent annual marijuana rally in April.

420 rally fight 2 4/20 Rally Organizer Vows To Continue Fight: Thats Our Intellectual Property

(credit: CBS4)

A long list of violations cited by the city prompted a three-year ban against rally founder and organizer, Miguel Lopez, who has organized the cannibis celebration event for years as its priority permit holder.

Lopez and his attorney, Rob Corry, are appealing the city’s ban.

420 rally fight 3 4/20 Rally Organizer Vows To Continue Fight: Thats Our Intellectual Property

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger speaks with organizer Miguel Lopez during a 4/20 rally. (credit: CBS4)

City officials say they will start accepting permit applications from residents on Tuesday, Nov. 21, for a new organizer to take over the rally next year.

Corry, however, plans to file a temporary restraining order and injunction on Monday in an effort to keep the rally in the hands where he says it belongs.

“The 420 Rally is a concept that we came up with. That’s our invention,” Corry told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.

420 rally fight 1 4/20 Rally Organizer Vows To Continue Fight: Thats Our Intellectual Property

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Rob Corry. (credit: CBS4)

City officials and other community members criticized the 2017 rally after finding the park littered with garbage the following morning. The debris had been scattered from trash bags left behind after the event.

Denver Parks and Recreation fined Lopez around $12,000 and also cited him for violating health and security standards and other requirements.

“The allegation that we supposedly trashed the park makes no sense because we had all next day to clean it up. Our permit expressly said that,” said Corry.

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Corry said that Friday’s administrative hearing was just the first step in a final appeal that lies ahead in court.

“These violations are such a hyper-technical nature,” Corry said. “They don’t merit us losing our right to hold this rally year in and year out. Secondly, the 420 rally is our property. That’s our intellectual property.”

420 rally fight 4 4/20 Rally Organizer Vows To Continue Fight: Thats Our Intellectual Property

(credit: CBS4)

Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation, supports the decision to uphold the three-year ban against Lopez, saying in a statement Friday, “Our parks and open spaces are meant for everyone to enjoy responsibly, and we are committed to upholding permittee compliance with our policies to protect the city’s resources and ensure public events are safe for attendees and everyone else impacted by them.”

Corry, however plans to fight someone else taking over the permit. He said that would constitute theft of intellectual property and trademark infringement.

The city has not responded to requests for comment on those specific allegations.

“We didn’t trash that park. The city, unfortunately, is trashing the constitution,” Corry said.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to

  1. Robert Chase says:

    The 4/20 Rally originated as a protest against Prohibition at the Capitol conducted by the late Ken Gorman — neither Rob Corry nor Miguel can reasonably claim that: “The 420 Rally is a concept that we came up with. That’s our invention” — no way, no how! Miguel applied for a First Amendment permit for Civic Center Park in 2008 and proceeded to progressively commercialize what was supposed to be solely a free speech event until the shooting in 2013, after which the City demanded that Miguel obtain a Festival permit, at which point the 4/20 Rally officially became a “Marijuana Festival” — where no cannabis is allowed. With cannabis having been made up to a level 1 drug felony back in 2013, arrests for cannabis having been climbing for the past three years, and rural cops about to receive $6 million in revenue from cannabis come Jan. 1 to go door to door, demanding to come in and count plants on the strength of neighbors’ denunciations and charging those with more than twelve with felonies regardless of medical need (see HB17-1220 and HB17-1221), the handful of activists still fighting Prohibition in Colorado know it hasn’t ended; it’s coming roaring back!

    There has never been a greater need for the engagement of those who use cannabis in political protest of the prohibitionists criminalizing cannabis in the Capitol, who may be doing just that there on 4/20/2018. The flap over Miguel’s permit is nothing but a distraction from the real issues — by holding a “Marijuana Festival” instead of the 4/20 Rally Against Prohibition, the City subverts meaningful political action by those still being victimized by our laws against cannabis (which, as I indicated, are not only still in force, but have resulted in increased arrests for cannabis for the past three years, despite having been virtually ignored by our media). Rob and Miguel sold out the pivotal opportunity for political engagement of people who use cannabis years ago and the City is glad of it, but having found a pretext for transferring the permit to others, it has done so.

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