Pot Party Lawsuit Goes Up in Smoke

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge snuffed marijuana smokers’ claim that the city of Arcata violated their First Amendment rights by barring them from celebrating “420” in the city’s Redwood Park.
U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled on Monday that Gregory P. Allen failed to allege a concrete injury and waited too long to file his complaint .
“Allen cites no case law showing that a partial closing of a park to all potential 420 celebrants amounts to a particularized First Amendment injury in fact to him,” Donato wrote.
Allen, an attorney, said the city has clamped down on the annual 420 celebration each year since 2010, after a 2009 documentary called “Pot City, USA” broadcast on A&E, cast the city’s cannabis culture in a critical light.
The 420 tag has been traced to a police code for drug use, and/or to the supposed daily meeting time for pot smokers at a California high school. Stoners have made April 20 an annual celebration, and Colorado saw fit to replace some 420 milepost markers with 419.99 because the signs kept disappearing.
Allen claimed the city posted police officers around the park in 2010 and forbid celebrants from entering, sending them to a nearby forest, where they faced increased surveillance and enforcement.
In subsequent years, the city used “various excuses” to close the park, such as scheduling a “tree-limbing operation” or dumping “2,000 pounds of smelly fish-emulsion fertilizer in the park to deter the 420 celebrants,” the complaint states.
But Donato found that Allen failed to cite case law showing that the city’s actions in 2010 hampered his rights, and also missed the statute of limitations.
“Allen claims he can sue over the April 2010 event because the city of Arcata engaged in an ongoing conspiracy whose last overt act was in April 2014,” Donato wrote. “This leaves Allen holding an empty bag, because the last overt act with which he had any personal involvement – and any possibility of claiming injury in fact – was in April 2010, and he did not sue until October 2014.”
Donato dismissed the complaint with prejudice, concluding Allen lacks standing and can’t allege new facts to show he does.
Allen said he did not celebrate 420 in the park of April this year because he was ill. He deferred further comments to his lawyer.
Allen’s attorney, Peter E. Martin of Eureka, and the city of Arcata did not respond to requests for comment.
Arcata, pop. 18,000, is in Humboldt County.

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