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Denver, Colorado’s free 420 Rally has a lengthy history, and even though we were snowed out this year, several hundred loyal cannabis-lovers showed up to smoke on the actual holiday – mostly locals. Be a part of the local tradition and the biggest 420 rally in the nation and come to Denver’s Civic Center Park at 101 W. 14th, beginning at 10 A.M and going until 9 P.M. The rescheduled rally is this Saturday, May 21st, and is always amazing. This year’s performers will include the incomparable Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa, sponsored by Colorado Marijuana Company, Sweet Leaf, Amber Ice, and of course MassRoots. That’s right – you can see these amazing performances free of charge on Saturday, and the forecast is calling for blue Colorado skies and 80 degree weather this time! You can also pay to get closer to the stage here. The crowd is expected to be the largest in the nation (and the rally’s history) at around 100,000 attendees (last year’s rally saw 80,000 people), and is one of the only free 420 events in the United States. There will also be 250 vendors providing everything from food to cannabis supplies on the park grounds.

History of Denver’s 420 Rally

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The 1994 420 Rally when Ken Gorman was running for governor of Colorado (Source)

The first official Denver 4/20 Rally was started by Ken Gorman – that was over 20 years ago in 1993. Ken Gorman was one of Colorado’s most venerable medicinal marijuana supporters and even ran for governor long before it was legal. Gorman began a Colorado tradition that has come to be the biggest 420 celebration in the fifty United States. Despite a lot of difficulties last year, from permits to marijuana violations, the 2015 420 Rally went exceedingly well, and was a great success for the marijuana industry and everyone who attended. Despite the fears of law enforcement agencies, rally-goers proved once again that a cannabis-fueled event is mellower than an alcohol-fueled event, and reassured local law that the rally would go on for the foreseeable future.

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Activist Ken Gorman (Source)

Colorado’s belief in cannabis’ healing and relaxing properties goes back decades, and as a Colorado native, I can tell you that I was offered marijuana at a Red Rocks concert before I had even had my first beer. In other words, we Coloradans love our cannabis. Prior to the November 2000 general election which allowed medical marijuana to be prescribed for “qualifying medical patients,” 420 was celebrated annually both in Civic Center Park and on campus at CU Boulder for years. Participants were kicked out of the Civic Center Park in 2002 and 2003, and they had to walk around the park to smoke, but the celebrations were tolerated. Local law enforcement didn’t much like it, but we still did it – and they let us. As medical marijuana registry cards and regulations went into effect, Colorado’s reputation for helping spearhead the cannabis revolution and the end of prohibition became known far and wide. In 2004, Colorado’s Department of Health set the caregiver patient number to 5 in a secret meeting; this ruling was eventually overturned – Judge Naves called their actions “an abuse of discretion in violation of Colorado law.” During this time, Colorado’s 4/20 rally in Denver was gaining steam, as was the cannabis legalization movement – rallies were growing and becoming one of the most inclusive places in Colorado – people from all walks of life began to openly support cannabis, leveling their aim at the regulations and possibilities surrounding the industry with high hopes.

Ken Gorman’s Unsolved Death

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Ken Gorman enjoying a joint at the last 420 Rally he was ever able to attend in 2006 (Source)

Unfortunately, founding Denver 4/20 rally promoter Ken Gorman died in 2007, at sixty years old. Still an unsolved mystery, two men broke into his home in a southwest Denver neighborhood. Due to the high-grade marijuana he supplied to his patients, Gorman had been robbed repeatedly over the years, and was unable to defend himself before he was fatally shot through the heart. Gorman’s activism around cannabis legalization “enraged a lot of people” according to local paper Westword; all kinds of theories have been posited as possible reasons for his death. They include rival cannabis growers, or possibly someone who wanted to keep him and his opinions quiet. Gorman’s main cause was the right of medical marijuana patients to medicate for their illnesses – a dream that has come true for many patients here in Colorado and across the nation.

The Turning Point

Due to Judge Naves’ ruling in 2007, the Colorado Department of Health held another meeting with the public, law enforcement, attorneys, doctors, caregivers, and patients in order to make decisions on how to regulate the future of cannabis in Colorado – their decisions during that meeting laid the solid bedrock for what is a booming business today. Caregivers were allowed to have as many patients as they could handle; they were only required to provide medicinal cannabis to their patients; and all applications and change forms had to be notarized. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? The simplicity of Colorado’s initial medical marijuana laws has allowed our state’s industry to become the biggest and the best over the past decade – the incredible outgrowth of ideas, concepts, and new applications for cannabis in medicine and entertainment would not have been possible under tighter restrictions. Following Gorman’s untimely death and the revelation of Judge Naves and the public concerning medical cannabis, the 420 Rally took on a whole new meaning for Coloradans and everyone across the nation who celebrated marijuana and its properties.

Gorman’s method of dispensing medical marijuana was out of the ordinary twenty years ago, and it still would be if it wasn’t for his early treatments. He used a bullhorn and a pocketful of joints to advertise his beliefs, which the current medical marijuana industry in Denver is now built upon, according to the Westword article. An incredibly outspoken supporter of medical marijuana, Gorman’s death was a shock to many of his friends, and his memorial site can be found here. If you have any information that might lead to Gorman’s killers, you can call this number: 206-755-2503 or email [email protected].

Exercise Those Cannabis Rights!

Come out and celebrate Gorman’s legacy and the fact that you can now consume medical and recreational marijuana in Denver – a turn of events that even Gorman didn’t foresee in Denver’s near future. Many people fought for your right to love cannabis – and the 420 Rally is all about keeping that dream alive and perpetuating it for future medical cannabis patients and those of us who just enjoy the many benefits of cannabis and our state rights to partake. This rally will be one of the most joyful events on the planet — Happy Rescheduled 420, and see you at Civic Center Park On Saturday, May 21st!

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