BOULDER, Colo. — Protesters demanding that marijuana be legalized marched to the University of Colorado Friday, testing the school’s determination to push the annual April 20 pot celebration off campus.
The protesters waved signs and a few appeared to be smoking marijuana as they entered the campus. They chanted, “Roll it, smoke it, legalize it.”
Only a few dozen marchers crossed onto university grounds from an adjacent street, but others joined in as they made their way through the campus. By the time the protesters halted on a grassy field near a science building, the crowd appeared to be in the hundreds.
A handful of Boulder city police officers, some in SWAT gear, watched from a corner of the field but made no move on the crowd.
The protesters avoided the Norlin Quadrangle, where last year’s rally attracted more than 10,000 people.
The university spread stinky fish fertilizer on the Norlin Quadrangle early Friday and declared it closed, surrounding it with yellow tape and stationing about two dozen officers around the perimeter. That effort appeared largely successful.
Three people were arrested for trespassing when they walked onto the quad, sat down and refused to leave.
“Clearly they wanted to get arrested,” campus police spokesman Ryan Huff said.
One of the three protesters, Johnathan Ducombe, said the crackdown was more disruptive than the any of the previous years’ rallies.
Huff estimated that the university would spend about $110,000 on law-enforcement Friday, about double the amount spent last year.
At least one other person was ticketed for marijuana possession on campus.
The yellow tape was removed from the quad and officers withdrew shortly after 4:20 p.m., the traditional time for marijuana advocates to light up.
In past years, the April 20 rally at Colorado, which has more than 30,000 students, was one of the largest on any campus in the nation.
Administrators were determined to limit this year’s event and dispel an image in some people’s minds that the school was a pot-happy party palace.