District Court Judge Todd Plewe issued a restraining order on Wednesday to bar the 32nd annual Colorado Invitational Bong-A-Thon marijuana competition from taking place next weekend near Stoner.
Plewe’s 14-day order against bong-a-thon organizer Chris Jetter and Montezuma County business partners Frank McDonald and Ted Clark essentially prohibits the marijuana competition from taking place as planned from July 31 to Aug. 2. It also grants law enforcement authority to use reasonable and appropriate means to enforce the court’s decision.
“Based upon what the county has presented … and their exhibits, I’m going to find that there is a basis to enter a temporary restraining order,” said Plewe, citing the defendants’ failure to comply with land-use codes.
Security was tight as Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin dispatched six extra deputies to the hearing on Wednesday, July 22. After the 20-minute hearing, a relieved Nowlin said he would post a deputy on the bong-a-thon site during the days scheduled for the event to notify ticket holders that bong-a-thon had been canceled.
“We won’t be searching any vehicles,” said Nowlin.
Initially set in a first-floor courtroom, Wednesday’s injunction hearing was moved to a larger courtroom on the second floor after nearly three dozen people arrived.
Jetter was never officially served with the injunction, but Montezuma County attorney John Baxter said officials made multiple efforts to notify him of the injunction request. Neither Jetter nor his attorney attended Wednesday’s hearing.
“We emailed (Jetter) a summons,” said Baxter, clearing the way for the proceeding.
Durango attorney Ryan E. Brungard, who represented McDonald and Clark, requested that his clients, unaffiliated with the event, not be included on the injunction. In response to the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners request for the injunction, Brungard said his clients had been clear in announcing that the event wouldn’t take place on their private property.
“If the court feels that it is still necessary to issue a temporary restraining order, we would just ask that they issue it against defendant Jetter,” Brungard said via telephone.
Baxter disagreed, arguing that all three should be included on the restraining order.
“Our concern is, What if they still have this?” Baxter posed to the court.
Brungard countered, stating the legal test to issue an injunction required immediate and irreparable harm.
Baxter then pointed to the county’s affidavit, which included threats from McDonald that the event would go on with or without the county’s approval of a land-use permit.
“With those threats, it’s not unreasonable to be safe,” said Baxter.
Brungard explained that McDonald’s perceived threats were made in the heat of the moment, but he eventually conceded that he wouldn’t challenge the court’s decision to include McDonald and Clark on the injunction.
Those in attendance at the hearing included neighbors of the proposed bong-a-thon site, and Baxter asked that they be allowed to address the court. Plewe rejected the request.
“I will only hear from the parties involved with the case,” said Plewe. “This is not a public meeting.”
Last month, Montezuma County commissioners denied a land-use permit for organizers to hold North America’s oldest marijuana event outside Stoner. Officials opted not to approve the permit, citing an incomplete application and lack of time to notify the public.
According to the bong-a-thon website, ticket holders will be notified of the event’s new location, within a 2.5-hour drive of Denver, via email. For the past six years, the annual competitive bong event was held in South Park, Colo.
Project Stoner Colorado, an effort of McDonald’s to create a cannabis-conscious community in Montezuma County, remained listed as a bong-a-thon sponsor as of Wednesday.
The bong-a-thon competition includes individual and team events. Guest tickets were available online for $80, and Golden tickets were sold for $420.
For more, visit www.bong-a-thon.com