April 20th can feel like a family affair. Regardless of backgrounds, age groups, cultures and locations, 4/20 is when stoners of all persuasions gather to toke up, turn on, blitz up, blaze out, and get high. Weed’s legalization in Colorado makes Denver amongst the country’s largest focal points for weed culture. From musical legends to artistic newbies, young dabbers to old joint smokers, the masses gather in a dazey haze of smoke and blaze to enjoy the magic of marijuana.
January 1, 2014 marked a day in marijuana history, when the first dispensaries of Colorado opened to the public, ushering in the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Nearly a year and a half later, 4/20 felt particularly vibrant in town this year, with 10,000 hipsters, hippies, and hip-hop fanatics descending upon the streets with their paraphernalia of choice, designer strains stuffed in socks, and hide-a-tokes.
Most folks showed up to hot box the four blocks of Denver’s historic district at the “420 in The Streets” block party, hosted by Denver based dispensary Altitude and club Cervantes’ Masterpiece. Old school rappers, the original proponents of legalization, Cypress Hill, Method Man, and Red Man, performed along side new comers to the hip hop game, The Underachievers, Dizzy Wright, and The Flatbush Zombies. The crowd, a technicolor mob of tie-dye t-shirts and weed leaf plastered bucket hats, hailed from Iowa, Idaho, Washington, California, Ohio, and New York (just to name a few), to bask in the spring sunshine and legally enjoy a great American past time: getting high.
Bowls, joints, and make shift bongs were at the ready, as Rapper Dizzy Wright counted down the minutes ‘til 4:20. When he finally announced the magic hour, the crowd suddenly consumed in a cloud of smoke, following the exhale of 10,000 weed lovers. The Flatbush Zombies then took over the stage with their famous circus antics. Zombies’ fans slowly emerged from their dopey lethargy to the terrorizing lyrics, “What ya gonna do when them zombies come for you?!”
Backstage the artist’s trailers were piled high with smoke, engulfing anyone who entered in an instantaneous contact high. Rappers who usually disappear after their shows stuck around to enjoy the easily accessible high grade weed prevalent in the city. Marijuana disguised as honey sticks and foldable bongs appeared out of pockets, as everyone passed around their newly discovered tools for partaking in cannabis.
Back on the streets for more musical madness, the night turned into a throwback to the 90s rap era of artists who have been pro-legalization since its days of taboo. “Decriminalize, and legalize, all that shit!” shouted one of the members of Cypress Hill before blasting into a rendition of Insane in the Membrane. Rooftops and windows became front row real estate over the street fair. Hanging from an upstairs window, local Denverites shouted “Who wants to get high?!” encouraging the days’ festivities.
After midnight the nearly comatose weed aficionados still standing took over Cervantes’ Masterpiece for the Joey Bada$$ after party. Back stage, Kirk Knight of Pro Era contemplated jumping jacks in the cold night air to rattle him self out of the depths of a weed trance only 420 could illicit. The show must go on.
There was a palpable social awkwardness in the air, while the stoney eyed audience gazed up at Joey and he brought back to life the cannabis indulgent crowd. Revived by Int’l Players Anthem from UnderGround Kingz, the dazed masses sang along to old school rapper BunB as he performed with Joey Badda$$, bringing yet another hip-hop legend to life.
The night ended in a culmination of confusion as the 420 midnight tokers stumbled out back onto the streets. Dreary eyed and giggly, they crawled into the cold winter night, of where was once a sunny spring day. All avoided eye contact with the street cops who might recognize the red eyes, in hopes that bed was not too far away.