This past weekend, I flew to Denver, Colorado for the annual national JEA journalism conference. We stayed at the Downtown Sheraton hotel and besides some snow on the first day, the weather was beautiful. The trip was a fantastic bonding experience among the members of our newspaper staff, and we learned so much more about the world of journalism. The trip itself was amazing overall. In between sessions, we were allowed to go out into the city and explore.
Sunday was the day we were able to see the city the most, and we were given the day to shop and eat. At first, we were all astounded at the number of homeless people who resided in Denver and wondered why they would choose to live in such a snowy city.
Then it hit us that the following Monday was 4/20. No, people were not gathered in Denver to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. They were there for 420, or “Weed Day.” This unofficial national holiday for Marijuana enthusiasts explained the unusually large number of tatted, pierced individuals that we saw. I then remembered that we were in Denver, the capital of the state of legalized marijuana.
I found this amusing, as this rebellious holiday had taken place on the weekend that over 4,000 high school students were gathered for a educational journalism conference. Our administrator well-meaningly was overcautious with letting us leave the hotel. Even so, I had some strange encounters with potheads in Denver.
In one case, while a couple of my friends and I were on the public bus on 16th street, one obviously high individual approached us and several other bus-riders and asked us to pet his stuffed animal monkey. We politely declined and proceeded to get off the bus at the next stop. Another waitress tried to persuade us to eat at her marijuana-themed restaurant and handed us a menu including items such as fried sriracha sauce with extra money for marijuana shots. Everywhere we went that day, we saw homeless men holding signs trying to sell weed or asking for money to buy weed. To make things weirder, there were absolutely no policemen there, though admittedly, everyone was very mellow.
This was all very strange to me, since I come from a state where marijuana is still illegal. Nevertheless, Denver was a great city and I had a great time at the convention, where our newspaper took 2nd place in the nation!