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420 marijuana rally: Can University of Colorado stop it?

420 rally: Smelly fish-based fertilizer was spread at the University of Colorado where the annual 420 marijuana rally is held. Will that stop the 'Reefer madness'?

By Rema RahmanAssociated Press / April 20, 2012

Thousands of people filled Norlin Quad during the annual "420" event at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo in 2009. This year, the university is closing its campus to outsiders on Friday, April 20, 2012 and closing the Norlin Quad to prevent a 420 gathering.

AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwell

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Denver

The pungent smell of pot that blankets a popular quadrangle at the University of Colorado-Boulder every April 20 is being replaced by the stench of fish-based fertilizer Friday as administrators try to stamp out one of the nation's largest annual campus celebrations of marijuana.

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After more than 10,000 people — students and non-students — attended last year's marijuana rally on Norlin Quadrangle, university officials decided this year to apply the stinky fertilizer to the quad to deter pot-smokers. They're also closing the campus Friday to all unauthorized visitors and offering a free campus concert by Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean timed to coincide with the traditional 4:20 p.m. pot gathering.

The measures pit Colorado's flagship university, which has tired of its reputation as a top party school, against thousands who have assembled, flash mob-style, each year to demand marijuana's legalization or simply to have a good time.

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With more than 30,000 students, Colorado was named the nation's top party school in 2011 by Playboy magazine. The campus also repeatedly ranks among the top schools for marijuana use, according to a "Reefer Madness" list conducted by The Princeton Review.

"We don't consider this a protest. We consider this people smoking pot in the sunshine," said university spokesman Bronson Hilliard. "This is a gathering of people engaging in an illegal activity."

"I do not see any justification for the university shutting it down," said student organizer Daniel Ellis Schwartz, who contends the measures infringe on First Amendment rights to protest. Schwartz, a physics major, and other supporters of the 4/20 smoke out plan to move it to a nearby park off-campus. He suggests there also will be some form of off-campus protest against the measures.

"We do have to play a game of chess with the authorities," Schwartz said.

Many students at the University of Colorado and other campuses across the country have long observed 4/20. The counterculture observation is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to New York's Greenwich Village.

The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread among California pot users in the 1960s and spread nationwide among followers of the Grateful Dead.

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