The Denver Police Department is officially cooler than your police department.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) April 20, 2015
As you may have heard, it is 4/20 -- the unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts worldwide. The City of Denver marked the occasion as it always does, with a massive, 125,000 person rally in a local park. And Denver's cops observed the day on social media with a tweet riffing on the lyrics to Chamillionaire's "Dirty," a song about how police go out of their way to pull over and detain young black men, preferably ones with drugs in their pockets.
But rather than discuss the evils of drug use or disparage marijuana users, Denver's police simply remind people to consume their weed responsibly. In doing so, they provide a template for what marijuana law enforcement might look like in an era of widespread legalization.
Some law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, have rallied against recent changes in public opinion on marijuana. Denver's cops, on the other hand, are choosing to work within the framework set by that state's marijuana legalization measures.
That doesn't mean lax enforcement -- indeed, Denver PD also tweeted out that it had issued about 100 citations for public marijuana consumption on Sunday.
But beyond that, police reported no major incidents related to the 4/20 festivities so far. In general, crime in Denver is slightly down year-over-year, so there's no real reason for police to oppose their state's legalization regime.
That represents a sharp contrast from a few hours east in Kansas, where an 11-year-old was recently taken away from his mother after speaking up during an anti-drug presentation at his school. The mom, Shona Banda, now faces a $2,500 fine, up to a year in jail, and permanent loss of custody over an activity that's perfectly legal just across the border in Colorado.
In one final irony, as Colorado smokers enjoy their legal marijuana today, Banda is scheduled to attend a court hearing that may determine whether or not she gets to retain custody of her son.
More from Wonkblog on marijuana policy