Denver Deputy Chief David Quinones explained that cops stood down during a "free joint giveaway" in Denver on Monday because authorities did not want to incite a riot by attempting to prevent hundreds of people from lighting up in public. The rally, part of a protest against the taxation excesses of Proposition AA, took place at Civic Center Park.
"We have learned from 4/20 events that if we send officers into a crowd this size or bigger, it results in less than cooperative behavior," Quinones told reporters. "People tend to turn on the officers. It is a petty offense, not a jailable offense. We don't want to turn this into a small riot to enforce a petty offense. So we weighed our options [Monday] and opted not to take action."
Quinones' comments followed the Denver City Council's Monday night meeting in which a "first reading" of the official regulations to establish retail recreational sales was held. However, at the meeting, two councilmembers expressed dismay over the anti-Prop AA rally, as news of the smoke out protest spread.
"Public consumption of marijuana is against the law," Councilman Charlie Brown (D-District 6) remarked during the council meeting. "We should enforce that law. I don't believe we can pick and choose what part of the city we can enforce the law."
Jeanne Robb (D-District 10) echoed Brown's comments, saying imagery of marijuana being openly smoked in Denver sends a bad message just as the city is establishing regulations for retail pot businesses to open on January 1, 2014.
On Monday Colorado became the first U.S. state to officially establish rules for retail recreational pot sales and the Denver City Council will vote on September 16 to formally approve legislation for the licensing and regulation of cannabis commerce in the city, to be funded by an additional 3.5% sales tax on pot purchases if approved by Denver voters in November.