Chase Byers has been to numerous summer concerts at the Dillon Amphitheatre, but Saturday night’s performance by The Machine, a Pink Floyd cover band, was different.
By the second song, the 11-year-old local said he could smell the odor of marijuana wafting through the audience. After 45 minutes, he said he had a headache from the smoke and had watched other concertgoers using the drug in front of him. Byers and his parents left the concert early.
“It didn’t really feel like a good environment,” he said. “It’s really disruptive because there were a lot of kids and families. My family was looking to listen to music and have a good time. I thought they could have done it in the privacy of their own home.”
Byers wasn’t the only one who noticed or was frustrated by the haze over the crowd.
Dillon police chief Brian Brady said he had four officers assigned to patrol the concert, but faced with a crowd of 8,000 people there was little authorities could do to curb the marijuana use, particularly with other problems demanding their attention. Officers made several arrests for offenses including cocaine possession, fighting and one DUI after Brady said the driver nearly ran him over. There were no arrests related to marijuana use.
“As for marijuana, we don’t allow it in the venue,” he said, noting that law enforcement was aware that people were smoking. “If we see it, they’re escorted off the premises ... it wasn’t blatant and outward.”
Both concertgoers and authorities noted the show seemed to attract a larger and younger audience than other performances at the amphitheater.
Brady said more people attended Saturday night’s event than did Dillon’s July Fourth festivities last year.
Colorado voters legalized the possession and consumption of up to one ounce of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21, but using the drug in public is not permitted.
Steve Smith, who also attended the concert, said he’s noticed an increase in public marijuana use in Summit County since Amendment 64 went into effect, but not to the extent he experienced at the amphitheater Saturday.
“There’s a time and a place,” he said. “I guess what bothers me is this attitude that we’ve changed one little part of the law, and now it’s just basically a free for all.”