- (Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking)
For some people in Colorado, the Easter weekend is a time for celebrating legalization of marijuana as well as seeking more freedom. In Denver, pot supporters are holding a rally which they hope would be "the biggest rally in history, and arguably … most important."
The two-day Denver "420 Rally" began in Civic Center Park Saturday, but "all eyes will be on Denver" on Sunday, the organizers say on the event's website, which describes Colorado as the "epicenter" of the pot industry.
The term "420" – which refers to April 20 – is debatable, but "there is no doubt that what once started as an underground code for friends to share a few puffs has morphed into a movement, celebrating the marijuana culture as a whole and symbolizing how far the industry has come," it says.
A constitutional amendment in Colorado, passed in November 2012, legalized recreational marijuana with effect from Jan. 1 – although the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 still categorizes marijuana as a drug that is as dangerous as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Pot supporters are now demanding that even open, public use of weed should be allowed and recreational marijuana be legalized across the nation.
While Washington State has "floundered" in their attempts to create "a robust regulatory infrastructure" to govern the industry, Colorado has taken "aggressive steps to ensure the marijuana industry realizes its potential in a credible, responsible manner," the organizers boast.
"While this year's rally is still a celebration of the marijuana culture and a protest against the federal prohibition against its use. Our goal is to create a positive environment for users to share stories, learn about the industry and create informed opinions on the remaining issues facing the industry," says Miguel Lopez, founder and emcee of the event.
Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper doesn't support the demands of the pot supporters. "Colorado is known for many great things - marijuana should not be one of them," he said, according to AP.
"As for this weekend, [Hickenlooper] encourages people to act responsibly," the governor's spokesman, Eric Brown, tells NBC News.
"The state constitution and city ordinances make smoking pot in public illegal. … If they want to celebrate 4/20, they should do so in the privacy of their home," Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown said.
A CNN/ORC International survey in January indicated that the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged, but the findings suggested the increase in support cannot be generalized. Fifty-five percent of respondents said marijuana should be made legal, but 44 percent disagreed, according to the survey.
Marijuana is often compared with caffeine, but there's a difference, Christian theologian John Piper wrote on the blog of his Desiring God ministry recently. While marijuana "temporarily impairs the reliable processing of surrounding reality," caffeine "ordinarily sharpens that processing," he said.
For a Christian, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Piper wrote, offering reasons to say "no" to the recreational use of marijuana. Christians should avoid marijuana also because God gave us minds and hearts to know Him and love Him and discern His will, Piper went on to say. We shouldn't become an "experienced sinner" to learn "the folly of sin," he warned.