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Was Marijuana to Blame for a Peaceful Mile High Celebration?

February 10th, 2016

During the LA Riots in 1992, I was car jacked by a knife wielding crack head.  It was a surprise attack at 3pm in the afternoon, followed by a revisit from the attacker to my home several days later.  Frankly that left me with a little PTSD and since then being in large crowds kind of freaks me out.

So when the kids asked to go the Broncos Super Bowl Celebration downtown, where they were expecting upwards of a million people, I felt pretty anxious.  Given my history, and the current climate of crazy people doing crazy things, this certainly wouldn’t be my normal thing to do but considering the whole “once in a lifetime opportunity” proposition, we packed up and hit the light rail.

Of course the kids wanted to be as close to up front as possible so we weaved and bobbed all the way until the Blue and Orange wall wouldn’t let us go any further.  And there we sat for almost two hours waiting for the Broncos festivities to begin.  It was during these two hours where I watched a mish mash of the metro Denver population around me.  There was a mix of ages, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. Many had Broncos jerseys, some had faces painted and some had scary tats on their necks but despite the occasional fight or flight response sending heated prickles up and down my spine, I actually felt pretty safe.  There was no tension in the air just one common purpose for being there….The Denver Broncos.

The other common denominator was the marijuana. Apparently no one heeded the whole “leave your alcohol and marijuana home” message put out by the City.  While it was what we call a Blue Bird day in Colorado, there was an evident cloud over Civic Center Park.  It felt at times like I was in a big giant outdoor hotbox.  I realized at this moment how 2015’s marijuana sales in Colorado were $996M.

I have to say, even though I’m in the drug testing business, and have lived with legalization for a couple years now, it is still just weird that someone can walk into a store and buy weed, like beer.  It still feels “naughty” and “awkward” when you see someone doing it in public and so yesterday, I just tried to shield the kids the best I could and enjoy the day.

When the parade got to the finish line and all of the hundreds of thousands of people along the parade route started to fill in an already jam packed park, I really started to get nervous. That was just a couple hundred thousand more potential people that could cause trouble. Having planned a strategic exit earlier, I started making my way out even as everyone was making their way in.  I was claustrophobic and anxious and I just wanted to get away.  It was more people that I have ever been around in one place at one time in my entire life.

A million people in one place at one time should be a breeding ground for trouble, right? People with different backgrounds and different ideas about things and politics and religion and all that stuff that gets brought up when people get together.  But guess what, nothing happened.  One idiot arrested for being an idiot.  One arrest on a day where a million people gathered in one place and (seemingly) almost all smoked pot.  Would that have happened if everyone was drinking? I’m sure there were plenty of flasks in pockets throughout the park but I only saw one airplane bottle on the ground. That was the ONLY evidence of alcohol I saw compared to the prolific use of marijuana.

When I returned home to post pics of the day, I saw the image above floating around and I was filled with pride and wonder, but thought how can that be?  Is Denver just filled with really nice people or could there be a different reason? Going back to the common denominator, I ask again, could wide spread marijuana use have contributed to the peaceful celebration of over one million people gathered together?  What are YOUR thoughts? I can tell you this, if the Broncos repeat next year, I’ll brave the crowds again…but this time I will have a burrito cart!