Was This Past Weekend In Denver A Catastrophe For The Legal Marijuana Movement?

Business Insider

View photo

marijuana denver 420


This weekend was 4/20, which is basically Christmas for users of marijuana.

The largest celebration took place in Denver, where a massive pot convention — including the Cannabis Cup contest — was interrupted by a shooting that wounded two and sent shock waves through the marijuana movement.

Remember that Colorado recently voted to legalize marijuana.

Barry Bard, an editor for WeedMaps.com – a startup that is among the first to capitalize on legalized and medical marijuana — spoke to us about the event. The WeedMaps team was at the Exdo Center, where the Cannabis Cup was being held. At the same time, they had a separate camera crew near the Civic Center. Here's what they heard:

"I was told it was like a wave of people rushing around after 5 shots were heard," Bard said in an email to Business Insider. "It was gang related and a 19 year old, I believe.

So while the shooting wasn't related to marijuana, the main event, or Denver's legalization of pot, it still will have significant downsides for the pro-pot movement. 

As we've argued, the future success of marijuana in the United States is predicated on the success of the dual experiments going on in Colorado — specifically Denver — and Washington. 

Attorney General Eric Holder is the man with the ability to either turn a blind eye or systematically crush the attempt to legalize marijuana in the states. During an Appropriations Committee hearing last week, Holder said that the Justice Department response would depend on "the impact on children" and violence related to organized crime. 

Needless to say, a gang-related shooting in the vicinity of a major marijuana event can be construed as somewhat provocative for the Justice Department, even if the gunshots were altogether unrelated to the core ideas behind legalization. 

Here's how Bard summed up the major downside for the drug reform movement from this shooting:  

The shooting is obviously a blight on the movement, even though it was gang related and had nothing to do with cannabis whatsoever. It will be used by the mainstream media and opponents of legalization as ammo to perpetuate prohibition and negate the benefits of marijuana. It now makes our job as part of the movement to spread awareness and truth even more vital to the long term goal. One bad seed certainly shouldn't spoil what is generally a very peaceful and genial movement, but we'll see what its immediate impact is. I'd be shocked if Denver allows the Civic Center smokeout to occur again, though, that's for sure, and other rallies nationwide of its ilk may be affected. But who knows how opponents of legalization will spin it.

Ethan Nadelmann, the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, had this to say about the shooting:

What can one say?  Shootings are bad.  DPA opposes all forms of violence.  One significant benefit of legalizing marijuana, as with repealing alcohol Prohibition [eighty] years ago, is taking the market out of the hands of those who might be more inclined to use violence to steal, extort or resolve disputes in the marijuana industry.

Is it the end of the world for marijuana reform? Probably not. But the pot legalization crowd really needs this to be a single, unrelated and unrepeated incident. 

The success of legal marijuana in America is predicated on the success of two experiments. If one of those experiments begins to go wrong — and if this sort of violence isn't isolated — then it's quite bad.

Still, all evidence seems to point to the contrary here — a single isolated event that happened to take place in proximity of a major marijuana convention — so don't expect a crackdown or a slowdown any time soon. 

More From Business Insider


View Comments (813)

Recommended for You

  • Tycoon buys 30 Rolls-Royces for Macau hotel

    A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in…

    Associated Press
  • Fresh Deck - Texas Hold'em Poker

    Play live Texas Hold'em Poker online with thousands of people for free!

    AdChoicesFresh Deck PokerSponsored
  • Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks

    Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks While investors gear up for Alibaba Group 's (BABA) hotly anticipated initial public offering, don't forget about other Chinese stocks that are worth keeping an eye on. Today's Young Guns Screen of

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Only 4 states will see cuts to food stamps

    Cuts to the nation's food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found. As a result, it's unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that…

    Associated Press
  • "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savings

    "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savingsBy the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire. Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and

    Yahoo Finance
  • SHOE COMPANY: Our CEO Just Disappeared And Most Of The Money Is Gone

    "and like that: he's gone." This is an actual headline from a company press release: "CEO and COO disappeared, most of the company's cash missing." (Via FastFT) In a statement, German-based shoe company Ultrasonic said its CFO,  Chi Kwong Clifford Chan, has been unable to reach the company's CEO,…

    Business Insider
  • Apple to unveil new iPads, operating system on Oct. 21 : report

    The company plans to unveil the sixth generation of its iPad and the third edition of the iPad mini, as well as its operating system OS X Yosemite, which has undergone a complete visual overhaul, the Internet news website said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment. The iPad is…

  • Margaritaville casino owners seek bankruptcy

    The owner of Biloxi's Margaritaville casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, only hours before a hearing where the landlord aimed to seize the property. The filing by MVB Holding LLC in U.S. Don Dornan, a lawyer for landlord Clay Point LLC, said the company had planned to ask…

    Associated Press
  • 13 Life Lessons From Favorite Childhood 90's Films

    You've seen these movies many times, so thankfully they taught us something! Take a look the life lessons from 13 of our favorite 90's kids films!

    AdChoicesAnswers OffbeatSponsored
  • Embraer to sell 50 E-175 jets to Republic in $2.1 billion deal

    Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial planemaker, said on Wednesday it booked a firm order from U.S. The deal, which will be included in Embraer's order book for the third quarter, is valued at $2.1 billion, the planemaker said in a securities filing. The planes will be operated…

  • Here's What Mark Cuban Wishes He Knew About Money In His 20s

    Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban is generous with his advice. When we asked him what he wishes he'd known about money in his 20s, he said:

    Business Insider
  • Play

    Citi, Bank of America Offer Discounted Mortgages

    Citigroup and Bank of America will offer mortgages at discounted interest rates to help borrowers with low incomes or subprime credit. AnnaMaria Andriotis joins MoneyBeat. Photo: Getty.

    WSJ Live
  • Gold loses luster on Fed; Barclays cuts forecast

    Barclays cuts gold forecasts, sees increasingly bearish backdrop Bloomberg MA MB MC MD ME SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold prices dipped Wednesday on concerns about a stronger dollar ahead of the Federal Reserve policy statement and in response to Barclays lowering its gold forecast.

  • Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More

    Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More Stocks were firm on Wednesday morning ahead of the FOMC meeting outcome. Tuesday’s rally may have sparked higher interest again, and investors are looking for bargains

    24/7 Wall St.
  • Billionaire Investor Says Chinese People Work Harder And Western Companies Could Face Deep Trouble After Alibaba IPO

    Michael Moritz, the chairman of VC firm Sequoia Capital, is a huge fan of Chinese internet companies and reiterated his enthusiasm for the Chinese market in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The billionaire investor described the Alibaba IPO as a “major landmark event” that is as…

    Business Insider
  • 10 Ridiculous Kid's Names Inspired by Pop Culture

    Ingenuity aside, these characters must've meant a lot to some parents--so much so that they named their kids after their favorite heroes and heroines.

    AdChoicesAnswers CelebsSponsored
  • Fed renews zero rate pledge, but hints at steeper rate hike path

    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time," but also indicated it could raise borrowing costs faster than expected when it starts moving. In a statement after a two-day meeting of its policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee,…

  • Boeing may have outfoxed Musk, but it could have bigger problems

    Elon Musk is arguably one of the greatest entrepreneurial minds of the 21st Century, but he was outsized an old school aerospace giant. Boeing won the bulk of NASA’s contract for a space taxi.  One of the other companies vying for the deal is SpaceX, the company headed by Tesla’s Musk, will get a…

    Talking Numbers
  • The Government Keeps Helping People Buy Failing Cold Stone Creamerys

    Would you loan someone money to buy a Cold Stone Creamery franchise if you knew that more than a quarter of those loans default? Over the last decade, franchisees in the Cold Stone Creamery ice cream chain defaulted on 29 percent of working-capital loans backed by the government, costing taxpayers…

  • Play

    What the Fed Meeting Means for Bonds

    Janet Yellen & Co. are expected to hint at their timetable for raising interest rates. Here's how investors should prepare ahead of the meeting.

    WSJ Live
  • Romney-Sized IRAs Scrutinized as Government Studies Taxes

    The preliminary report attaches data to an issue that drew attention during the 2012 presidential campaign, when Republican nominee Mitt Romney reported an IRA worth $20 million to $102 million. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said many of these "massive" accounts come from deals…

  • Russian billionaire placed under house arrest

    A billionaire Russian tycoon was placed under house arrest Tuesday in a money-laundering case that has drawn comparisons with a government crackdown on Russia's Yukos oil company more than a decade ago. The Investigative Committee, Russia's top investigative agency, said that Vladimir Yevtushenkov,…

    Associated Press
  • 11 Ideal Spots for a Healthy Vacation

    If you're looking for an active vacation, choose a spot with beautiful scenery and trails. You'll enjoy your healthy vacation while sightseeing!

    AdChoicesAnswers HealthSponsored
  • Facebook Is Hiding Important Information From Investors

    Facebook Is Hiding Important Information From Investors Facebook.com/sheryl On July 23, when Facebook reported its earnings for the second quarter, the company stunned everyone. Revenues were $2.68 billion, up 67% from the same quarter during the year

    Business Insider