Businesses on University Hill, including medical marijuana dispensaries, are gearing up for April 20, the day that celebrates cannabis culture.

Soon after 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, thousands of people are expected to disperse from Norlin Quad, many of them heading to restaurants and bars on The Hill.

This makes it one of the busiest business days of the year for The Hill food service industry. With a recent rise in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the area, pot shop owners can expect a spike in business in the days leading up to the actual celebration as well.

"4/20 is always pretty nutty on The Hill, so we're definitely getting prepared," said Jay Epstein, owner of the Boulder Meds dispensary, located in the upper level of the plaza on the corner of University Avenue and Broadway.

Epstein hopes that customers plan ahead so that they aren't waiting in long lines on Wednesday afternoon.

While not encouraged by the school, the University of Colorado hosts one of the largest annual 4/20 celebrations, with recent years having attendance around 10,000.

Epstein said he likes that the celebration on campus isn't a bunch of loud protesters waving signs. The crowd tends to smoke, cheer and disperse pretty calmly.

"It seems like it's been more of a cry for independence for people, with people showing they care about patient rights," Epstein said.

The Fitter is a shop on The Hill that specializes in glass pipes and smoking accessories, and also carries shoes and clothing.

"I've been preparing for a good month. For us it's a major event," said store co-owner Bonnie Dahl. "It's grown over the years and even though it's in the middle of the week, we still expect a lot of out-of-state kids. A lot the CU kids' friends show up."

The Fitter is combining a 4/20 celebration with its 38th anniversary by offering 20 percent off all merchandise. They're spreading the sale out over five days, running Saturday through Wednesday, in order to alleviate some of the crowding that will occur on April 20.

Nikki Dugas is a manager of The Fresh Republic dispensary, which is located at 1335 Broadway. She expressed excitement that it will be the new dispensary's first April 20.

Dugas said that she's heard of other shops selling out of product in previous years and so the Fresh Republic is working to stock up in preparation for higher sales -- both leading up to and on the actual day of 4/20.

"I really love it, the students are really good support," she said. "The 4/20 smokeout is all of us saying we are 10,000 strong."