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A national anti-marijuana group has met with Obama administration officials to encourage the federal government to reverse legalization in Colorado and Washington. Meanwhile, on Monday, a Colorado group concerned about the impacts of legalization on children issued a statement decrying the scenes of public pot smoking in Denver on Sunday, a day marijuana enthusiasts treat as a holiday called 4/20. Both are examples of organizations skeptical of legalization pointing to the unprecedented interest around marijuana in Denver this past week as reason to change or reverse the 16-month-old law.
Scenes of open toking, cannabis commercialism and pot-fueled revelry, the groups say, run contrary to the restrained system of at-home marijuana use that voters approved in 2012. “This is not healthy for our young people,” said Gina Carbone, a spokeswoman for the group Smart Colorado. “This does not send the right message. … We’re not educating our kids to the harms of it. Instead, we’re glorifying it and promoting it.” Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown likewise questioned whether the 4/20 celebrations are beneficial to Denver and said he hopes any added expense incurred by the police department as a result of the events are paid for by taxes on marijuana stores. “It’s not Denver’s finest hour, let’s put it that way,” Brown said. “And it still comes across to me as in-your-face politics.” For the first 4/20 after history-making recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado, Denver was awash in marijuana-centric events on Sunday – the most notable being the large pro-pot rally in Civic Center park that culminated with a mass smoke-out at 4:20 p.m. This year, Denver police issued 92 citations for public marijuana consumption over the two-day festival – far more than the five public-consumption tickets police issued at the one-day event in 2013 – and organizers told attendees that public consumption is illegal. Tens of thousands still lit up in unison Sunday afternoon. Miguel Lopez, the rally’s organizer, said the event remains more of a protest than a festival, despite beefed-up security, new vendor booths and an expanded musical lineup that brought the rally closer to other annual events like A Taste of Colorado. Those who smoked in public did so as an expression of civil disobedience against laws they disagree with, Lopez said.