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Marijuana rally in trouble at Colorado university

Marijuana rally in trouble at Colorado university

April 21st, 2012 in News

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - The pungent smell of pot that blankets a popular quadrangle at the University of Colorado-Boulder every April 20 was replaced by the stench of fish-based fertilizer Friday as administrators tried to stamp out one of the nation's largest annual campus celebrations of marijuana.

After more than 10,000 people - students and non-students - attended last year's marijuana rally on Norlin Quadrangle, university officials this year applied the stinky fertilizer to the quad to deter pot-smokers.

Three people were arrested for trespassing when they walked onto the quad, sat down and refused to leave.

"Clearly they wanted to get arrested," campus police spokesman Ryan Huff said.

One of the three protesters, Johnathan Ducombe, told reporters the crackdown is more disruptive than any of the previous years' rallies.

Huff estimates the university will spend about $110,000 on law-enforcement Friday, about double the amount spent last year.

Huff said another person was ticketed for marijuana possession on campus.

University officials also closed the campus Friday to all unauthorized visitors and were offering a free campus concert by Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean timed to coincide with the traditional 4:20 p.m. pot gathering. His contract bars him from making any direct references to marijuana, other drugs or to 4/20.

The measures pit Colorado's flagship university, which has tired of its reputation as a top party school, against thousands who have assembled, flash mob-style, each year to demand marijuana's legalization or simply to have a good time.

With more than 30,000 students, Colorado was named the nation's top party school in 2011 by Playboy magazine. The campus also repeatedly ranks among the top schools for marijuana use, according to a "Reefer Madness" list conducted by The Princeton Review.

"We don't consider this a protest. We consider this people smoking pot in the sunshine," said university spokesman Bronson Hilliard. "This is a gathering of people engaging in an illegal activity."

"I do not see any justification for the university shutting it down," said student organizer Daniel Ellis Schwartz, who contends the measures infringe on First Amendment rights to protest. Schwartz, a physics major, and other supporters of the 4/20 smoke out plan to move it to a nearby park off-campus. He suggests there also will be some form of off-campus protest against the measures.

Hilliard expressed admiration Friday for the fertilizer's odiferous impact.

"We're able to enrich the grounds here, which are lovely, and then we can also create an extra deterrent for people to show up today," he said. "You know, to be very candid, the goal of all of this was to make it kind of an unpleasant experience to be here today for anyone who planned to come for 4/20."