4/20 at CU-Boulder: Members of city council on why they support campus closure

Last night, the Boulder City Council passed a resolution supporting CU-Boulder's plan to shrink the campus 4/20 event by closing Norlin Quad and banning visitors on Friday; read it below. This morning, we spoke to two members of the council -- one who supports it wholeheartedly, and another who voted for it with some reticence.

Ken Wilson holds the former view. In his words, 4/20 at CU "is getting too big, and it needs to be toned down or stopped.

"When an event gets to a certain size, it becomes a public danger. And even though it's certainly less likely to have a marijuana riot than an alcohol riot, when they get that big, and when they're not planned, there's public risk -- and CU has decided it's getting there."

boulder city council ken wilson.jpg
Ken Wilson.
Another factor for Wilson: "CU got the number one party rating last year [from Playboy] partly because of this event, and that's not good for student degrees. I've heard from graduates from the law school and students at the engineering school say having a number one party-school rating doesn't help their chances of getting good employment. That's one of the reasons CU wanted to stop it from getting bigger."

As for the school's approach, Wilson says simply, "I support CU. They're the major industry in the city. We like to partner with them, and I like to support their decisions. They spent a lot of time thinking about how to tone this down, and this is what they came up with -- so I want to support them and see what happens."

Wilson downplays potential problems caused by would-be 4/20 revelers flooding into the community at large because of the campus closure. "That already happens," he points out. "I live six blocks from CU on University Hill, and they park in my neighborhood and fill it up with cars. So that's no change. And if you stop this, fewer people will come. Maybe it will take a year, but hopefully people who were thinking of coming or driving from Denver will see it's not going to be like it was -- that there are going to be problems -- and decide not to come."

Likewise, he's not troubled by charges that the closure restricts free speech, since 4/20 is really "a big pot party," he maintains. "I was in college during the Vietnam War, and we had protests, we made signs, we got permits and marched -- and they can do that. But having a big party where everyone is smoking pot is not effective. As I said last night, if you want marijuana to be legalized, that has to go on the ballot. But having a big, disruptive party is not a good way to get someone like me to vote in favor of what you want to do. Sitting on the law and putting up a whole bunch of smoke is a high time, but it's not a protest."

Page down to read about councilwoman Suzanne Jones's take on 4/20, and see the resolution.


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