Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Well, that’s a buzzkill.
The New Mexico 420 Fest recently went up in smoke when the Albuquerque Police Department denied the permits the group needed to host a cannabis-themed event on the streets of Downtown Albuquerque on Wednesday.
A police spokeswoman said the department doesn’t have the manpower to assist with shutting down Central Avenue for hours on a workday.
Organizers for the festival said they have had to cancel the event this year because they are not permitted to block traffic off Central from Third to Seventh Street starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The event had been planned from 2 to 10 p.m., and vendors, bands, street food hawkers and artists were going to set up booths in the street.
The event’s website described it as “One day of Peace, Love, Music and Art.”
April 20 has long been an underground holiday of sorts. In fact, the term 420 – pronounced four-twenty – has become almost synonymous with marijuana in ganja lexicon. And organizers were hoping the event would hold added significance this year because earlier this month New Mexico became the 17th state in the country to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis.
“We didn’t cancel it, APD canceled it,” said Melissa Thompson, a spokeswoman for the festival.
Thompson said that organizers are directing people who wanted to attend the festival to The Jam Spot, a private venue Downtown, where some of the cannabis-related vendors will set up booths.
Thompson said organizers had expected to get the permits. They provided the Journal with documents showing at least one city department, Solid Waste, had green lit the event. She said organizers had been communicating with the city since June.
The event has been held for several years before cannabis was legalized. But it was canceled the last two years because of the pandemic.
The vendors weren’t going to sell marijuana, and people couldn’t have used marijuana in public during the event, Thompson said.
But Albuquerque police’s refusal to shut down Central snuffed out the joint venture like it was, well, a joint. Thompson said the insurance package organizers obtained required that streets be blocked off for safety.
“This request was denied because the organizers wanted to shut down Central for most of the day in the middle of the work week,” Rebecca Atkins, an Albuquerque police spokeswoman, said in an email. “We have to shut down roads in the area at night because of traffic around the bars for public safety reasons. Shutting down Central on the same day would require more resources.”