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'4/20' marijuana celebration notes security lessons from Boston Marathon bombing

Large crowds are expected to congregate for today's annual '4/20' marijuana smoke-in and celebration around the US. Given this week's Boston Marathon bombing, police are on high alert.

By Staff writer / April 20, 2013

Mike Steenhout, comptroller of Washington's Liquor Control Board, takes photos as he tours a marijuana growing facility in Seattle. Washington State voted last fall to legalize marijuana for adults over 21 and set up a system of state-licensed pot growers, processors, and retail stores.

Elaine Thompson/AP

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The annual “4/20” marijuana celebration – the communal cannabis party held by pot smokers around the world on April 20th – is getting special attention following a week of shock and then resolution in the Boston Marathon bombing.

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It’s a cause for special celebration (as if the day needed any) following the Friday night capture of the second suspect in the Boston bombing, not to mention voters in two states in last November’s elections – Colorado and Washington – approving the recreational use of marijuana.

But the day is also marked by heightened security concerns as crowds gather to smoke weed and party. Boston was a reminder that a cheerful happening can quickly turn to tragedy.

"We're aware of the events in Boston," Denver police spokesman Aaron Kafer, told the Associated Press, although he declined to give specifics about security measures being taken. "Our message to the public is that, if you see something, say something."

With recreational pot now legal in Colorado, organizers expect last year’s crowd of 50,000 to top as many as 80,000.

Rally organizers are expecting so much interest in Saturday's event, they included Sunday this year, reports the Denver Post. Other marijuana-centric concerts, exhibitions, tours, and events will also take place in the city throughout the weekend. Group smoke-outs are also planned from New York to San Francisco.

As with other social issues (including same-sex marriage) public attitudes are shifting in favor of marijuana legalization – a trend that began in recent years with the approval of marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

The Pew Research Center reported earlier this month that 52 percent of Americans say that marijuana use should be made legal. Among younger Americans, the figure is even higher.

The legal trend among states regarding marijuana – first as medicine and now for enjoyment – has put states at odds with federal laws and regulations. Lawmakers in Colorado and Washington have been looking for ways to resolve the apparent legal conflict.

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

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