Despite the recreational use of marijuana being newly legal in Colorado and 4/20 falling on a Saturday this year, University of Colorado officials still say they adamantly oppose a large-scale pot party on the campus.
CU officials -- who say the smoke-out disrupts academics and it's still illegal to smoke pot in public -- will be making an announcement as early as next week about what the school's plans are for April 20.
Last spring, the school took the unprecedented step of shutting down the Boulder campus to outside visitors on 4/20. Norlin Quad -- which in past years was the location of the unsanctioned smoke-out that grew to 12,000 revelers -- was shut down altogether.
Campus officials even applied a fishy-smelling fertilizer to deter crowds. As a result, a far more modest crowd of about 300 people gathered on a smaller campus field.
"4/20 is most certainly an unwelcome gathering on the campus," said CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.
Even though the pot-smoker's holiday falls on a Saturday, Hilliard said a large-scale gathering would disrupt the academic mission of the campus.
"We've got the library open on Saturday, and it's two weeks before finals," Hilliard said. "We've still got research going on in adjacent chemistry labs. We have faculty coming and going for meetings and visiting lectures. There are musical auditions. There's a whole range of academic and research activities. This is a seven-day-a-week academic community."
Last year, CU's administration and student government spent more than $278,000 in their efforts to curtail the marijuana smoke-out.
The administration spent $124,561, and the CU Student Government, which staged a concert featuring Wyclef Jean during 4/20, spent $154,236. The concert was poorly attended, drawing only a few hundred students, and the student government has no plans to take the same approach this year.
"Our administration's feeling was that it wasn't fiscally responsible," said Britni Hernandez, a student government executive. "We spent a lot of student fee money to fund an event that didn't have student input or buy-in."
The student leaders are not saying whether they would support the campus shutting down again to visitors, but they've signaled some early concerns and have indicated they want to hear from students.
Last year, students and employees were required to show their campus identification cards on the campus.
Earlier in the school year, student government executive Tyler Quick -- whose father, a district attorney, worked on the "No on 64" campaign -- said he wanted to hear students' opinions about the smoke-out. While he suspects many students don't want the campus to be associated with 4/20, he said he wants to make sure their civil liberties are well protected.
Mason Tvert, of the Amendment 64 campaign, points out that public use of marijuana is still illegal under state law. Also, the law requires people to be 21 or older to smoke marijuana.
But he said CU should take a more sensible approach to 4/20 -- which is a day, he said, when people advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Tvert said a smoke-out is much safer than tailgate parties before football games where people drink alcohol.
"CU has a handful of football games in which they openly allow people to consume copious amounts of alcohol, and they don't seem to think there's any problem with that," Tvert said. "Marijuana is less harmful, and I don't think the event is nearly as big of a problem as they make it out to be."
CU officials have said they're unsure how long it will take them to entirely shut down the 4/20 celebration but that they plan to continue investing in its end. A Boulder district judge -- on the eve of 4/20 last year -- denied an emergency request to block CU from closing its campus to visitors.
The marijuana smoke-out has contributed to CU being ranked high for "reefer madness" in party-school ratings from the Princeton Review and Playboy magazine.
The Boulder Faculty Assembly has not taken an official stance this year regarding how the campus should handle 4/20. But physics professor Jerry Peterson -- who is chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly but was speaking for himself -- said the event tarnishes the reputation of the campus.
"I think 4/20 is the event by, for and about losers," he said. "There's no place for it on this campus."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.