The Hash Bash marijuana rally draws hundreds to the University of Michigan Diag to protest
ANN ARBOR, MI – Hundreds of protesters, pot tourists and marijuana enthusiasts attended the University of Michigan Diag Saturday afternoon to hold a smoke-in protest in connection with the 50th Hash Bash rally.
The annual smoke-in was a protest against marijuana laws, including banning smoking in public, according to Adam Brook, a former Hash Bash organizer. Current organizers are holding the event for practically the second time in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Related: Ann Arbor’s 50th Hash Bash will be virtual, but smoke-in-protest planned
Brook previously said he would not sit out another year and planned the smoke protest on Diag. Large crowds in the hundreds, if not thousands, were on the Diag, and many others were walking between the Diag and the pharmacies in downtown Ann Arbor.
“It just goes to show that we still have a lot to struggle,” said Brook. “We moved the ball forward but we still have a long way to go.”
Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel spoke during the Hash Bash virtual live stream, saying that while Michigan has made great strides in reforming marijuana law, it has been a long time since the federal government legalized marijuana nationally.
“Cannabis reform is necessary to ensure restorative justice,” she said. “Reforming the marijuana law would reduce the harm to people in color communities who are disproportionately affected by current cannabis laws, create jobs and economic opportunity, as legalizing or regulating marijuana would bring one of the largest rule-of-law cash crops besides taxpayers’ money and enable make better use of already scarce law enforcement resources to ensure safe communities while reducing the burden on our courts and the justice system. “
The first Hash Bash happened on the Diag in 1972 – four months after John Lennon and others came to town to attend a freedom rally for incarcerated Ann Arbor poet and pot activist John Sinclair, who was serving a 10-year prison sentence for he had two joints.
After Sinclair was freed and Michigan’s marijuana crime law was declared unconstitutional, the first hash bash was enacted as a new state law with lighter penalties.
Sinclair was present on Saturday April 3rd. He said he was glad to see everyone come out.
“We shouldn’t be here. You don’t want anyone smoking weed on campus – never have, never will, ”Sinclair said.
Open smoking marijuana in public is not legal and even less appropriate during a pandemic, Ann Arbor Police Chief Michael Cox said Friday. Both the AAPD and the UM Public Security Division (UMDPSS) were on Tuesday Saturday to monitor the protest and the crowd. The officials told those present that they could not sell anything at UM Diag.
Paul Kerry didn’t sell anything, but he did offer people hits from a device he had designed to make dabbing – inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates through a heating method such as a vaporizer – more efficient and longer lasting.
It was Kerry’s first hash bash, and although he has known about the event for years, he never thought of going until this year.
“Now that I’m here, that’s great,” said Kerry of Port Huron. “I’m near a group of my kind of people.”
The state has COVID-19 orders in place through April 19 that limit outdoor gatherings to no more than 300 people. Face masks may be worn at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area in groups of no more than six people, at least three feet apart and not mixing.
Related: Ann Arbor Police Chief Has Message For Hash Bash Visitors: “We Are In The Middle Of A Pandemic”
UM DPSS information officer Melissa Overton said there were no more than 500 to 700 people on the diag, but everything was peaceful and no arrests had been made as of 1:30 p.m.
The last personal hash bash in April 2019 – the first involving marijuana legalized in Michigan – drew a record crowd of well over 10,000 people from across the state and beyond.
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