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Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

This year's Hash Bash in Ann Arbor to feature one of biggest names in national cannabis movement

By Ryan J. Stanton


This was the scene at last year's Hash Bash. With good weather, a notable lead speaker and a statewide legalization campaign under way, organizers predict this could be the biggest Hash Bash ever.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Steve DeAngelo, director of the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary and one of the biggest names in cannabis law reform, will speak at this year's Hash Bash in Ann Arbor.

"This is one of the biggest things to hit A2 since sliced bread or the flush toilet," local medical marijuana activist Chuck Ream wrote in an email, calling DeAngelo "the top speaker we could have possibly have gotten for Hash Bash this year."

The 41st annual Hash Bash takes place at noon April 7 on the University of Michigan Diag, and organizers say they're glad to welcome DeAngelo of California's Harborside Health Center.

As always, the rally on the Diag will be followed by the Monroe Street Fair, where festival-goers traditionally go to smoke copious amounts of marijuana afterward.


Cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Calif., is the featured speaker at this year's Hash Bash in Ann Arbor.

DeAngelo, who has been featured extensively in national media coverage of the emerging medical marijuana industry, has been active in the cannabis reform movement for nearly four decades, both in Washington, D.C., and in California.

Ream, president of the Arborside marijuana dispensary in Ann Arbor, is one of the organizers of this year's Hash Bash, an annual festival rich in local history.

"If you think about it, Hash Bash is one of the longest-running, most-enthusiastic, absolutely grassroots people's festivals that we have. It is both celebration and protest," said Ream, who taught kindergarten for 33 years before he retired to help finance and run a successful medical marijuana campaign in Ann Arbor in 2004.

Ream said the rally portion this year's Hash Bash will last 90 minutes instead of the usual 60 minutes. One of the highlights will be when Ann Arbor musician Laith Al-Saadi takes the stage to perform a guitar rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Various speakers are expected to talk about marijuana initiatives under way in cities like Flint, Detroit and Kalamazoo.

Adam Brook, organizer of the Hash Bash for the past two decades, won't be in attendance this year because he's serving a two-year prison sentence for a weapons violation. A letter from Brook, modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous letter from the Birmingham Jail, is expected to be read by Richard Celement, a medical marijuana activist from Lansing.

Charmie Gholson, a drug policy advocate and editor of the Midwest Cultivator, will serve as co-emcee along with Ream this year. Gholson is the communications director for Committee for a Safer Michigan, a grass-roots group of cannabis activists trying to collect signatures to put the question of fully legalizing marijuana on the ballot in Michigan this November.

With good weather, a notable lead speaker and a statewide legalization campaign under way, Ream predicts this could be the biggest Hash Bash ever.

"We could easily have two to four times as many people as have ever attended any Hash Bash," he said, pointing out there now are almost 200,000 medical marijuana patients registered in Michigan. Even though they're following the state's medical marijuana law, Ream said they're still "absolutely terrified" by the continued attacks on the law.

Hash Bash comes this year as the Ann Arbor city attorney's office continues to heavily scrutinize and question the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city.

Ream is hoping DeAngelo, whom he called a historically important leader in the decades-long struggle for cannabis and human rights, can inspire and instruct cannabis activists in Michigan.

He's also hoping DeAngelo will speak to the members of the Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Guild about best practices for medical marijuana dispensaries.

A native of Philadelphia, DeAngelo was raised in Washington, D.C., where his father worked for the Kennedy administration. He was influenced by his parents' involvement in the Civil Rights movement and when his dad worked for the Peace Corps in the late 1960s.

In 1984, he graduated from the University of Maryland and went on to open the Nuthouse, which High Times called a version of the famous Family Dog in San Francisco.

After playing a key role in the passage of Washington D.C.'s medical cannabis initiative in the late 1990s, an effort later blocked by Congress, DeAngelo arrived in California in 2000.


Continuing his activist ways, Chuck Ream addresses the Ann Arbor City Council earlier this week.

Ryan J. Stanton |

There he became one of the founding members of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group for medical cannabis patients. He also wrote and produced "For Medical Use Only," a short documentary film, and helped organize several legal cannabis gardens.

In October 2006, he won a competitive RFP process and was issued a medical marijuana dispensary license by the city of Oakland. He then launched Harborside Health Center in hopes of bringing a new model of professionalism and integrity to the industry.

As Harborside gained recognition for its free holistic care clinic, lab-tested medicine, low-income care package and wide array of other patient services, DeAngelo went on to help create the Steep Hill Labs, a medical marijuana safety screening and quality assurance facility.

The University of Michigan Department of Public Safety warns that Hash Bash is not an amnesty day where campus police look the other way on pot smoking on university property.

While Ann Arbor's lax penalties for possession of marijuana apply elsewhere in the city limits, campus police enforce state law on university property, and state law says marijuana possession is a misdemeanor crime punishable by one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

The Ann Arbor City Council in the 1970s reduced the city penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a $5 civil infraction, essentially decriminalizing weed in Ann Arbor. That remains the case today, except it's now a $25 ticket for first offenses.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Steven Thompson

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Folks, I am 64 years old now, became a Christian in 1978, became a minister in 1984, and have been branded a criminal for 46 years now because I CHOOSE to grow & use God-created Cannabis instead of doing man-made, poisonous drugs (legal or otherwise). I am not alone..we are a LARGE counter-culture of folks all over the world who CHOOSE the natural route over the synthetic one. We DO NOT manufacture a drug...we GROW a simple, seed-bearing, herbal PLANT! We dearly love our families & communities, work hard, believe in shopping local & recycling, grow organic, and contribute to society.Now I ask you, honestly, how are we hurting anyone with the choice of our lifestyle? I ask you, honestly, what gives ANYONE the right to make us live a different lifestyle, or THEIR'S? We DO NOT force ANYONE to live our's! We have been jailed, our children & possessions taken away from us, and even killed for OUR choice of lifestyle! So I am humbly pleading with ALL who read this to help RIGHT a WRONG that has been going on for over 70 years now in our country! Help us get the signatures that we need to qualify for the state ballot to end prohibition for ALL adults 21 & over, and then vote YES for OUR God-given rights this November. Go to and don't forget to click the "LIKE" button on the right-hand side of the page. Our signature drive started in January and we have till July 9th to collect 500,000 sigs. Let's make our great state of Michigan the shining light on the hill and the leader of our great nation once again...let's make history once again! Obviously, we are not going to get any help from our current legislators. OUR FUTURE IS NOW IN OUR HANDS, SO WHAT WILL WE DO WITH IT?


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Good post Steve.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

I feel sorry for all those people that would need medical marijuana, nothing like having a bunch of stoners push their agenda of recreational use by using someone with cancer or other medical conditions as the face of thier campaign. Nothing like exploiting someone who is really sick and really in need so you can smoke down somewhere else other than your parents basement.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

What a condescending post, wow!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

As coming from a family that has seen the many horrors of the face of cancer, I welcome ALL the stoners to further OUR agenda. Many of us severely ill can't affect our own agenda due to health concerns. I don't want to go to jail for helping my ailing folks. Big Pharma's laws obstruct, inhibit, and jail folks for the desire to be healthier then their drugs can provide for. As far as I'm concerned, prohibitionists and their bedfellows killed my brother. His brain cancer would have been treatable with the knowledge and legality of cannabis. Parade me, parade my family, put my brother's face on a poster, just get it done. Its about good policy change, not the people that want it. Nobody should have to justify their reasons. Nobody should have to parade their medical history in front of the town square to get their meds. So, because of prejudice nanny-bots like yourself, we have to do all those things to justify, to educate the ignorant, and to fight for our very lives, all because of folks feeling like they better than the rest. Don't break your neck when you fall off your high horse.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

One of my idols is a WWII vet, recon in europe. The only thing near the word "hard" in his vocabulary is WORK. He's been real healthy most of his life. He's lucky to be one of the last 8000 or so. Recently he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I'm proud to be his hippie era offspring that has had success where Big Pharma has failed. You know what Big Pharma has for Alzheimer's? Nothing! All the establishmentarian doctors can say is "here's a pamphlet on coping with Alzheimer's." A Scripps Institute study found that THC was considerably more effective than Donepezil (Aricept ®) and tacrine (Cognex ®), which reduced amyloid aggregation by only 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively. I've recently "found myself" working very had to make his medications. His success and his insurance does him no good. But I can. Symptoms have been reduced to very little. Cannabis does amazing things! This event is to protest unfair laws. Whether the result is recreation or medications, we will all be in a better place, outside of jail helping our ailing folks. The HIGH point of my day would be to talk with the keynote speaker about any work he does in CA with Alzheimer's.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

"The Ann Arbor City Council in the 1970s reduced the city penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a $5 civil infraction, essentially decriminalizing weed in Ann Arbor. That remains the case today, except it's now a $25 ticket for first offenses." This is not true at all. I was ticketed some 18 years ago after they passed the new ordinance. First Civil Infraction + $125 fine. Second, Misdemeanor 90 days and/or $500 fine, and progressive. $5 Ticket, I was never even looked at until they changed it. I haven't touched it for some 13 years either way. I personally paid $125.00 fine, oh and I had to stand in front of the judge too, that's right.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

I'm sure this will be the "high" point in these people's lives all year. That picture sums up everything. I prefer the awesome WWII generation's way of getting buzzed... hard liquor. That generation defeated the evil Nazi's, lived to see communist Russia destroyed, and fought real fights in the workplace like getting higher pay through Unions. The hippie generation on the other hand lost Vietnam, "found themselves" by getting high instead of working, and are now losing everything gained by WWII generation through demanding government welfare instead being men and demanding it for a hard day of work. Shame on you hippies, shame on you.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Yes, hard liquor, where they'd come home and beat their wives, or run people down on the streets because they decided to drive drunk. The number of deaths attributed to Pot in a lifetime would not even equal the amount of deaths caused by alcohol in one year. Imo, Pot>Alcohol, because Pot won't be an excuse for running someone over with your car, and Pot won't be an excuse for beating your wife. Got any more stories for us?

Frustrated in A2

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

Time for the HB to go the way of the naked mile, Lol!


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

@Ryan: Your pic shows Chuck talking to council this week ... about what; I don't see mention of that in the story. Was he telling them he's "absolutely terrified by the continued attacks on the law?" Was he showing off his new collection of signs? Seriously, what?

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

In the beginning, most of those arrested were teens from all over SE Michigan who were held until their parents came to get them. Wonder if that's still the case.

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

I used to run sound, do video work and other things for Hash Bash. That's me in Elli Gurfinkel's famous photo of the showdown with the police officer. The event is more than just people getting together to get high on pot. There are a lot of elements represented there: healthcare, music, art, dance, and good old socializing. It's no surprise that the city that is one of the most friendly towards marijuana should have an event like this. I did notice something: Recently while dining at a local establishment, I overheard a young female student discussing Hash Bash with her fiends. "OH, I'm so sorry you have to be here for Hash Bash. It's like when I went to school at Berkeley, but with way more people". I approached the woman and her friends, explained my history with the event, and asked what it was that she disliked. She said it was wrong for "those people" to be out on the diag. Her friend said "Well, I'm not against smoking pot, but doing it and talking about it in public is just wrong". Eventually, we agreed to disagree. Later, I overheard the young ladies discussing multiple instances of being sloppy drunk in public, and literally taking pride in the fact that they were rude to people out in public while in that state of mind. To me, that is ironic. It is also symbolic of the criticism of Hash Bash. A lot of it has to do with bigotry against certain types of people and lifestyles.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Nice post Jaime


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Let's see how many fights and melee's break out at the Hash Bash this year compared to St Patrick's Day. Or any other year for that matter


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

The Hash Bash isn't about medical marijuana, it's about getting high. I feel like we have a lobbyist coming to speak.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

It is nice to see helping promote the city's annual celebration of substance abuse.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

I would say the same thing if 10,000 frat boys got together on the diag and celebrated by drinking themselves blotto. I am no flaming member of the Christian right. I am pushing 60. I smoked my first joint at age 14 (at the urging of people like Sinclair) and stated drinking about the same time. Over time, I outgrew the whole scene but saw several friends and family memebers fall to the wayside into drug abuse and alcoholism. I am all for medicinal use of marijuana for the chronically or terminally ill, but how many people in the above photo whould you say qualify? The whole movement is about "fighting for the right to party" and not much else. For someone with subtance abuse tendencies, marijuana is the perfect gateway drug. If you can control your use, more power to you.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

And it's also nice to see people be killed by alcohol on a regular basis. Explain to me again why that filthy liquid is so accepted but this stupid plant is so rejected.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

Steve Deangelo has an agenda that I do not fully support but I will probably still check out what he has to say


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

"As always, the rally on the Diag will be followed by the Monroe Street Fair, where festival-goers traditionally go to smoke copious amounts of marijuana afterward." Did Ryan really write this?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Come on. You have to agree that people who smoke pot are not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Carl Sagan smoked pot.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

I and virtually every significant artist in every medium of the 20th century agree with you.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Little known fact: Ann Arbor also holds an annual DMT festival. It's a little hard to find because it takes place in a different dimension of dilated space-time.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

So much hostility because people just go by whatever the law tells them. Marijuana is illegal so it must be bad, when it's benefits have been proven, while alcohol seems to only harm, but apparently it is perfectly okay because it's legal. It's so sad how many people ruin their lives and how some even face death from alcohol, yeah it is legal and the social norm.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Haha wow, so much hostility. Chill out people (entheogens help with that, btw)


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

love the crowd pic, that is the face of your marijuana movement!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

sure rusty, potheads are a diverse crowd, of stoners.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

I bet the look could be similar to any rally or event including a UM football game


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I think that's the same pic used for their article on A2 being the smartest city.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

@bunnyabbott. I noticed the expressions on everyone's faces too. Priceless!


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

Surveys consistently show that around half of the nation favors marijuana legalization. So while the crowd that attends Hash Bash may be disproportionately young and male, it's a cause favored by far more people. Plus, some people may want to attend but have work-related hesitations about doing so. I don't smoke but work in a profession where attending Hash Bash would be perceived negatively by some.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Racially diverse and of various (legal) ages? Hmm, not many conservative causes for which one can say that.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Legalize Pot! It makes it so much easier for me to find a job if I ever have to look.

UM owns

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

"This is one of the biggest things to hit A2 since sliced bread or the flush toilet". LOL, that guy must've been high when he gave that quote.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Democracy, First Amendment in action. Love it! Sad to see so many opposed to Americans voicing their opinions by freely assembling in a public square. If you think this cause is solely the domain of crazy hippies and the dread "liberals", take some time to look up, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Ending the war on a plant could save this countries taxpayers some serious scratch and save lives.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

@Northside they're only supportive if you believe what they believe is right, if not, then you're a communist/socialist. Funny thing about those two words there. The common thing they share is that people who don't agree with your views on politics will call you one of them, and they don't have a clue to what they actually mean.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

northside, the conservative idea of freedom mostly involves white Christians not paying taxes while prohibiting sex and fun and putting black people in prison while telling them they have to shape up.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Many conservatives seem to love freedom only in theory: woo hoo democracy, independence, and individuality! When it comes to actually practicing those things and being different in terms of beliefs, culture, clothing, etc.? Then they're not so supportive on that freedom thing.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

No John Sinclair? Does he have a different legalize pot rally to attend that weekend?

Michigan Man

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

No one cares about John Sinclair anymore.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

John Sinclair is on the long list of potential speakers

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Ironic that hb is basically the only time/place in A2 where it's actually possible to get busted for weed.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Is this really news? There are so many more important things happening and this is what is reported?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

LOL: looks like I inspired someone to get a few extra accounts.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

I love the site's new comment voting system. In the past, when people could click like as many times as they wanted, comments like xmo's would mysteriously gain a large number of votes. Now that voting requires registration and gives an accurate count (one vote per user), this comment is exactly where it deserves to be: -9 (as of Friday at 11:30).


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Why don't you see if you can get some face time with the organizers? Talk to them, find out their point of view, ask questions, explain your views to them. Minds/parachutes, that kind of thing.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

It's a major festival in town with a long history, and is featuring a well-known speaker. Just because you have cultural resentment against the perceived participants doesn't automatically make it un-newsworthy.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

In the previous century, people struggled through misery and against horrific war and holocaust to find life. It is so sad to see a photo of so many here now finding a mind altering drug as their primary passion in life. To escape life.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Fred here believes that if one simply attends Hash Bash then they are "dedicating their lives to intoxication" but if one were to go to a similar event that is based around alcohol it's just people having fun and a good time. Fred why do you hate freedom?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Fighting against the drug war is a very noble cause. How many people have been wrongly imprisoned? Received a criminal record that has marred their lives? How many taxpayer dollars have been wasted, how much police time taken away from catching real crimes?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

"Octoberfest is not a gathering of people that dedicate their life to alcohol intoxication" neither is hash bash. it's a formal, annual protest about the prohibition of a substance that a majority of americans want legalized. Know your facts before you simply slander an entire group of people.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Octoberfest is certainly a festival based around beer consumption, but the similarity ends there. Octoberfest is not a gathering of people that dedicate their life to alcohol intoxication.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Are you refering to Octoberfest where people drink to alter their minds ??? Alcohol is a drug.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

The real hash bash was back in the 70's when I would skip high school and join in on the real fun!!! To many law makers took the fun out of real life.............


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.