Are College Kids Actually Abstaining During 4/20 ‘Smoke-Outs’?

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The University of Colorado Boulder goes up in smoke.

Then what explains that mysterious cloud of smoke?

The University of Colorado at Boulder, recently ranked by Playboy as the top party school for its culture of “reefer madness,” is also known for hosting one of the nation’s largest public tributes to Mary Jane.

Though pot is only legal in Colorado for medical purposes, thousands of students—wearing green shirts promoting pot—congregate on the CU grounds on April 20 (4/20) to light up in unison. The annual public smoke-out, which commemorates the international de facto holiday for marijuana enthusiasts, is considered a campus tradition even though the school does not officially sponsor the event.

(PHOTOS: Inside Colorado’s Marijuana Industry)

The school’s administration is frantically trying to shed its toke-friendly rep by axing the “4/20 Smoke-Out” entirely, and even conducted a survey to gauge undergraduate participation. The figures were released Tuesday and revealed that most of the undergraduate attendees weren’t actually getting high.

According to the “4/20 Survey,” 24% of the 3,700 surveyed smoked or digested pot at the 2011 event. The other 76% were there to observe others getting stoned.

Interim vice chancellor for student affairs Deb Coffin noted in a press release that “this event is not welcome on our campus,” adding that the lucid majority represent “a great critical mass of students to partner with as we work to end it.”

Highlights from the study:

  • Nine percent of the respondents described the event as a “political movement,” while 75% labeled it as either a “recreational gathering” or a “cultural happening”
  • Almost 30% felt it was “very true” that the 4/20 Smoke-Out is “a CU tradition”
  • Students are split 50-50 on whether or not the event is officially sponsored by the school

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