Pot Activists Sue Over 4/20 Campus Closure

Cu Boulder 420

Marijuana activists are filing suit against University of Colorado Boulder for the planned campus shut down on Friday, The Denver Post reports. CU-Boulder has made it clear that it does not want the annual marijuana smoke out held on campus any longer, which has drawn nearly 10,000 people to Norlin Quad to light up on 4/20 in recent years.

Denver attorney Rob Corry, no stranger to marijuana-related lawsuits, is representing the activists and is seeking a hearing this afternoon. Corry recently participated in The Huffington Post’s Great Marijuana Debate, has defended more medical marijuana criminal cases than any other attorney in Colorado and is the only attorney to win multiple acquittals for defendants facing medical marijuana charges.

“To my knowledge, there has never been a case where a public university has blockaded and shut down its entire campus to squelch free speech activity there,” Corry told The Huffington Post regarding the campus shut down. “This is a radical overreaching on CU’s part. When did marijuana become so offensive at CU-Boulder of all places?”

CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano made this statement about the reasons for employing such extreme measures to end the gathering via the school’s website:

The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus. The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.

Then later, in a letter written to The Denver Post, DiStefano goes further stating that the marijuana celebration is far from a protest or demonstration and should not be treated as such. “If it is a protest, then every party on every college campus in America is a protest,” DiStefano writes.

CU spokesman Bronson Hillard explained the chancellor’s invoking of a long-standing CU-Boulder policy to shut down the campus to The Daily Camera. Hillard says that a Boulder campus policy titled “Campus Use of University Facilities” allows the chancellor to restrict access because of weather, safety concerns or “disruption,” which DiStefano says the 4/20 event is in his statement.

Corry emphatically disagrees with DiStefano and Hillard, saying to The Huffington Post:

There is no evidence that this is a “disruption” to CU’s mission. In fact, this peaceful protest is entirely consistent with CU’s mission of education and empowering students and citizens to engage in open discussion and exchange of ideas regarding relevant issues of the day. A police crackdown against ideas will harm CU’s reputation far more than any peaceful protest will.

Corry was also critical of DiStefano’s dismissive statements that the 420 event is simply a “party.” “There is no evidence to support the view that this is a “party,” Corry said. “This event involves expressive conduct and free speech and association, which if not safe on a public college campus, is not safe anywhere.”

Classes will continue as scheduled on April 20 and the campus will remain open to all CU-Boulder students, faculty and staff, but they will need their BuffOne ID cards to get on, and around, the campus, a press release from CU-Boulder states.

Police will be dispersed around campus and will have checkpoints set up at all major campus entry points. Anyone who is not a student, staff or faculty member will not be permitted on campus and individuals found on campus without a BuffOne ID will be subject to a ticket for trespassing.

Norlin Quad, where the 4/20 smoke out is usually held, will be closed to all people–not just visitors–on April 20, and in order to make it clear that no one is welcome on the Norlin lawn, a fish-based fertilizer will be dispersed over the quad that day, The Denver Post reports.

Chancellor DiStefano has the support of the CU-Boulder student government who is endorsing this move to crackdown on the 4/20 festivities. Student leaders have organized a free April 20 concert on campus by hip hop artist Wyclef Jean at the Coors Event Center as an alternative to the campus smoke out. For more information on the free concert, visit the Program Council’s website.

According to KDVR, CU has said that the 4/20 event costs the university more than $50,000 in cleanup and safety. However, the entire Wyclef Jean concert will cost CU approximately $150,000, according to The Daily Camera.

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