Closing campus

The amount spent to close the University of Colorado's Boulder campus on 4/20:

2014: $60,433

2013: $107,794

2012: $278,798 (includes student government funds)

Source: University of Colorado

Breaking it down

A breakdown of the costs associated with 2014's campus closure

$28,633 for labor costs for officers from outside agencies, and overtime costs for CU police, parking and transportation staff

$12,234 for Argus security staff

$5,119 for cones, barricades and signs

$2,850 for medical response staff

$11,597 for equipment, supplies, operations facility rental, printing and food and water for personnel

Source: University of Colorado

The University of Colorado spent $60,433 to close down the Boulder campus on April 20 as part of its ongoing effort to keep pot smokers from congregating on the annual 4/20 marijuana holiday — a figure that's down more than 40 percent from what officials spent last year.

The university made "conscious efforts" to curtail expenses this year, and was able to spend less by shortening the amount of time the campus was closed to outsiders, CU spokesman Ryan Huff said Wednesday.

Students, faculty and staff were required to show CU identification before being allowed on campus. Other guests were required to obtain a visitor's pass to enter the campus.

This year, the campus was closed to outsiders for six hours, from noon to 6 p.m. In 2013, CU spent $107,794 to shut down the campus from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition, Huff said "strategic decisions" were made to decrease the number of police officers present and instead increase the number of private security staff. When no activity occurred on campus before or at 4:20 p.m., some staff members were allowed to leave early, Huff said.

Funds used to suppress the annual gathering came from insurance premium rebates resulting from reductions in liability and hazard claims, and no tuition or taxpayer money was used, Huff said.

Increasing efforts

Campus officials have been ramping up efforts to extinguish the annual pot smokeout over the last three years, and the university's tactics have worked — after severely diminishing the event in 2012, Norlin Quadrangle was empty on 4/20 in 2013 and 2014.

At its peak, 4/20 became a glorified holiday on the Boulder campus and drew more than 10,000 people to the grassy quad to congregate, smoke and celebrate pot culture.

Costs for stamping out the gathering have gone down steadily since 2012, the first year the university seriously cracked down on revelers.

That year, the university and the student government spent $278,798 on security, fish-smelling fertilizer and a Wyclef Jean concert meant to divert attention away from the quad.

Spending some money to end the yearly influx of cannabis-lovers will save the university money in the long run, Huff said.

Before 2012, the university spent roughly $50,000 per year cleaning up after the annual smokeout, and for security during the gathering, Huff said.

"The gathering was highly disruptive to the academic mission of the university," he said. "Had we not moved to close the campus in 2012, it's conceivable that we would be paying $50,000 a year in perpetuity to manage this unpermitted event.

"We hope that in the near future we won't have to spend funds on 4/20 operations."

'Serious' about ending 4/20

This was the third year the university closed the campus to outsiders on April 20, an action Chancellor Phil DiStefano said was necessary to show that the campus won't tolerate the annual pot party.

"You may ask why this move is necessary after two successful years of curtailing the large 4/20 crowd," DiStefano wrote in a letter to the campus this spring. "It is imperative that the public knows we are serious about eliminating this disruptive gathering.

"I hope at some point in the near-future that campus closures will not be necessary, and we can go about daily business on campus as we normally do."

Huff echoed DiStefano's statement, and said the campus has not yet made plans for 2015.

This was the first 4/20 after recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado. However, campus officials noted that consuming marijuana in public or by people who are under 21 is still illegal. Smoking is banned entirely on the Boulder campus.

In Denver this year, tens of thousands of people gathered at Civic Center Park on 4/20. Others celebrated a Snoop Dogg concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.