CU-Boulder announces new 4/20 crackdown, plans to ticket pot smokers By Brittany Anas | Denver Post | 4.3.12 The University of Colorado today announced a new plan to snuff out the Boulder campus's 4/20 smoke-out, warning that police will ticket pot smokers as this month's event -- a more aggressive enforcement policy than in years past, when officers mostly monitored the crowd for safety reasons. CU officials -- who, for the first time ever, have the support of student leaders who also want to end the unsanctioned April 20 event -- warned students today that those busted smoking pot in public could face a $100 fine and additional sanctions with CU's Office of Student Conduct. Those with medical marijuana registry cards risk having them revoked upon conviction. "It needs to end,” Chancellor Phil DiStefano said of 4/20 today in a news release. Meanwhile, in an effort to keep students away from the Norlin Quad, student leaders have announced that they'll host a free, student-only hip-hop concert featuring singer-songwriter and former Fugees member Wyclef Jean on the afternoon of 4/20 in the Coors Event Center. Jean, who ran for president of his native Haiti in 2010, has opined about pot in the past, saying he supports full legalization in the United States. In 2006, after performing at a night club in Las Vegas, he started a "(Bleep) Bush" chant after declaring:"President Bush needs to smoke marijuana." In his 2009 song "Something about Mary," he sings "She's homegrown and you can hold her in her back yard. If she allows you to, you can roll her up." CU's 4/20 smoke-out has grown to be the largest in the country on a college campus, drawing as many as 10,000 smokers. It's also prompted Playboy Magazine to crown CU the nation's top party school and drawn "Reefer Madness" rankings from the Princeton Review. Matt Warnstedt, 25, of Gunbarrel, has attended 4/20 on five occassions, and he said that the threat of tickets this year won't deter him. "It started out as something to do with my fellow smoking friends and it has since evolved into a non-violent protest," he said. "It's really a protest over how ridiculous this prohibition is." About a quarter of students surveyed by the university last year said they joined the crowd on Norlin Quad and either smoked pot or ate food containing pot. About 11 percent joined the crowd, but didn't consume marijuana. Campus survey results also revealed that the 4/20 smoke-out was a magnet mostly for curious freshmen, tends to draw out-of-state students and is mistaken by half of those polled as a "sponsored" university event. Campus officials have complained that amid tough economic times, the event costs the school $50,000 annually -- with expenses that include contracting with event staff to close off parking and make sure revelers aren't wandering into classrooms, and hiring extra police officers. “This imposition on the campus significantly disrupts the university's operations – including teaching, learning and research. It threatens the health and safety of our employees, imposes logistical challenges and expenses, and unfairly taints the reputation of CU-Boulder and the dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni who are a part of this great institution," DiStefano said. CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard said the university isn't taking a stance on marijuana legalization and its primary concern is how large the gathering has become. "I wouldn't want 10,000 people blowing bubbles at the center of campus. Are we thrilled they're smoking marijuana? No. But the issue of marijuana is secondary. The issue is the crowd has gotten way too big." Hilliard said the event makes it difficult for people to get to classes and the crowds and noise causes a disruption for CU's classrooms and research labs. The university will again limit parking, making it tough for the public to get to the quad for the 4/20 event. The school has also partnered with the Colorado State Patrol, which will increase its patrols on U.S. 36, Colo. 93 and the Diagonal Highway -- looking for drivers who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, the Colorado Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division will have a team of officers deployed on campus and throughout Boulder monitoring medical marijuana centers to make sure they're complying with regulations. CU officials also reminded students that the federal Clery Act requires the university to maintain a publicly accessible crime log, and those ticketed for marijuana will have their names posted on that log. CU has advised faculty members not to cancel classes on 4/20. In November, CU Student Government leaders passed a resolution calling for an end to the gathering on the Boulder campus following an open forum in which students expressed support and opposition for 4/20. On March 1, leaders of the Boulder Faculty Assembly also voted to support official efforts to end 4/20 on the campus. Vice President for External Affairs Brooks Kanski said the event damages CU's reputation. Online searches of "CU-Boulder" pop up images or videos of 4/20 and questions about the event plague CU graduates in job interviews. Kanski said that when the student government held a forum on 4/20 earlier this school year, a CU senior in a suit and tie who had just come from a job interview testified that his potential employer said: "We see on your resume you're from the University of Colorado. Is taking a drug test going to be a problem?" "That's the last thing we want to be reflected on our students," Kanski said. "We really do feel that this is at the heart of CU's party school reputation." The Wyclef Jean concert is jointly funded by CU Student Government and Program Council and Kanski said he estimates it will cost $150,000. Doors to the concert in the Coors Event Center open at 2 p.m. and close at 4 p.m. The concert is expected to last until 6 p.m. In 2010, Jean filed for candidacy in the Haitian presidential election, though he was ruled ineligible because he had not met the requirement of being a a resident of Haiti for five years. In past years, the university has issued few tickets on 4/20 -- mostly to those who were caught smoking on the quad before the actual smoke-out. The university has tried different strategies over the years to halt the event. They've turned sprinklers on the crowd. They've sent undercover students into the crowd to take photos of pot smokers, then posted them online and paid people who could identify them. They've even tried putting down a fertilizer that smelled like fish, but it didn't deter crowds.