University of Colorado to Remain Open on 4/20

The University of Colorado at Boulder, once known for its communal 4/20 celebration, has since adopted a strict no-smoking policy on campus. For the past three years, CU-Boulder was completely shut down to outside visitors on 4/20 in an attempt to terminate its once-renowned event.

Prior to 2012—the first year of campus closure—CU was home to one of the largest 4/20 smokeouts; it welcomed thousands of community members and took place on the Norlin Quadrangle, located directly in front of the library. However, since marijuana has become legal, the university has made a successful, albeit economically unsound, effort to keep all non-affiliates off campus on 4/20. Law enforcement would stand in front of every campus building and request to see identification, consequently costing the university a hefty $107,764.

Although Norlin Quadrangle is to remain closed on April 20, 2015, CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano wrote the following in a campus-wide memo:

On this April 20, the campus will remain open to students, faculty, staff and visitors, as it would normally be. The only exception to this will be the lawn areas of the Norlin Quad, which will be closed that afternoon. Depending on other factors, additional fields may also be closed. Those who ignore the barriers and cross onto the Norlin lawn or any additional closed fields can face a citation or arrest for trespassing. While you may see a presence of campus police enforcing the closure areas, officers will not be checking IDs of those on campus like they have in past years.”

For the past three years, the campus closure on 4/20 effectively sent a message to outsiders that CU is serious about maintaining its educational environment. The progression shown each year since 2012 in student and community member compliance has, according to the Westword, “informed the decision for 2015.”

Ryan Huff, spokesman for CU, told Westword, “There have been three years in which we closed the campus to non-affiliated visitors, and we saw improvement each year.” Those incremental improvements were enough to warrant an attempt to return to normalcy. Huff explained, “When you look at that factor, along with the passage of Amendment 64 along with the fact that there are many sanctioned, permitted events in the Denver-Boulder area, we thought it was time to see April 20 return to being a normal school day.”

Huff continued, “When you want to end an unsanctioned, unwelcome, disruptive gathering, it takes more than a year. You need to show you’re serious about ending it. And we felt that three years was an appropriate amount of time to send a message to the public that we don’t want this on our campus anymore.”

Seeing that April 20, 2015, falls on a Monday, it is easy to see why campus needs to remain open: it is a school day. Even still, the campus is not entirely “open,” as Huff confirmed there will be more police enforcement on 4/20 than on a normal school day.

DiStefano also asserted in his memo that those who desire to partake in 4/20 festivities have the option of attending one of the many sanctioned events in the Denver metropolitan area. By skipping out on unsanctioned public events, marijuana enthusiasts will have the comfort of knowing that their smoking activity is safe and legal.

Despite a lack of activity on 4/20 at CU the past three years, it will be interesting to see how 4/20 pans out this year. Will students and community members comply with CU’s guidelines? Or will the campus unintentionaly invite a relapse to take place? It is likely that, by way of distraction, many marijuana enthusiasts will partake in sanctioned festivities elsewhere.

Read the chancellor’s complete letter here.

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