The sun shone brightly over Civic Center on Monday afternoon at 4:19. By 4:20, a thick fog was settling in.
Marijuana enthusiasts toked together during the annual 4-20 rally, chanting "freedom" as they let loose a hazy cloud of smoke from their lungs.
The crowd, which police estimated at between 2,500 and 3,000 but organizers said was much larger, began assembling well before it was time to light up. They took advantage of the warm weather and checked out vendors selling everything from pot-themed art and T-shirts to bottled water.
Others stood closer to the Greek Amphitheater stage, taking in live music and speeches from activist groups seeking reformed marijuana laws. "Voice Your Choice" was the theme of the day.
"This event serves as a community assembly," said activist Miguel Lopez, who organized the rally. "It shows that we have a cannabis culture here."
Just before the clock struck 4:20, Lopez said Denver would be a pioneer city in declaring, "We want to smoke our weed!" He was met with a roar of cheers as people dug pipes and lighters out of their pockets.
"The fact that police show up here dressed down, whereas they show up to CU football games in full riot gear, says a lot about the potential harms of marijuana and alcohol," said Mason Tvert, executive director of Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER.