Fans fired up at Colorado marijuana celebrations

Thousands of marijuana ­enthusiasts gathered in Colorado and Washington at the weekend for an annual ­celebration of cannabis culture in the first two American states to legalise the drug for recreational use.

A woman smokes marijuana during the rally in Denver. Picture: Reuters

Voters in the two states approved amendments to state law in 2012 allowing personal possession and use of marijuana by anyone aged 21 and or older, though public consumption of pot remains illegal.

In January, the world’s first state-licensed retail marijuana outlets opened in Colorado. Stores in Washington state are set to arrive later this year.

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The states are among 20 that had already removed criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana. The federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal narcotic, but the Obama administration has given states new leeway to experiment with legalising cannabis.

Revellers gathered in Denver’s Civic Centre Park on Sunday to hear music and listened to speakers during a weekend event organisers billed as the “world’s largest 4/20 rally”.

The date of 20 April – 4/20, as abbreviated in the US – is a numerical code used within the cannabis subculture to refer to the consumption of marijuana.

Police issued 63 citations on Sunday, most for smoking pot in public, which carries a fine of $150 (£89). About half as many were cited on Saturday. At least eight people were taken to a ­detoxification facility during the two days, police said.

In Seattle, several hundred people attended a 4/20 gathering in a former brewery building organised by sponsors of the city’s annual Hempfest rally.

Doug Medina, 54, said he travelled hundreds of miles with his wife and daughter from their home in Montana to Seattle for the 4/20 weekend celebrations.

“It feels a little more open than it did five or ten years ago,” he said while smoking a joint.