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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.