The legality of cannabis in Colorado has changed drastically over the past 12 or so years and its presence and acceptance across the state makes it hard to believe how much different things are today.

Read More: FLASHBACK: What It Was Like to Celebrate 4/20 in Denver in 2019 |

Nowadays, the Mile High 420 Festival is not only held right in front of the Colorado State Capital building in Denver's Civic Center Park, but it also features performances from famous musicians and artists and is attended by thousands each year.

However, this was not always the case as just 12 years ago, what would eventually evolve into the aforementioned festival was a much less organized and much riskier gathering that saw numerous legal infractions handed out to attendees.

Colorado's 4/20 Festival Was Much Riskier in the Beginning

In the years leading up to Colorado's legalization of cannabis, the biggest 4/20 party wasn't outside of the State Capital but was instead held on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

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In addition, the gathering at CU was less of a festival and more of an unorganized mob of people smoking weed in unison once the clock struck 4:20 p.m.

This gathering was not only frowned upon by the university but law enforcement was heavily involved. In fact, not only would police issue citations for possession of marijuana, but the school would reportedly take photographs of the crowd and ask students to identify anyone they know who was caught on camera.

However, after Colorado passed the bill that would legalize the plant for recreational use, the festival has changed drastically and has become much more organized and much less of a risk to attend.

What It Was Like to Celebrate 4/20 in Denver Before COVID

April 20th, 2019 was the last real celebration of the marijuana-themed holiday of 4/20 in Denver before the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to large gatherings.

Gallery Credit: Nate Wilde

See What Really Goes on at Colorado’s Rainbow Gathering

See what happens at The Rainbow Gathering, a huge hippie festival dating back to 1972 that brings a lot of peace, love, music, and tie-dye to the Colorado wilderness.

Colorado Was Home to the First Rural Hippie Commune

Take a trip through time and learn about Colorado’s Drop City, the first rural hippie commune.

Gallery Credit: Nate Wilde

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