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Posted on Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 5:52 p.m.

Hash Bash draws crowd of 5,000 people to the University of Michigan Diag

By James Dickson


A large crowd gathered on the University of Michigan Diag for a rally to kick of the beginning of Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 3, 2010.

Angela J. Cesere |

The Hash Bash is back.

Hampered in recent years by waning interest and uncooperative weather, the first-weekend-of-April marijuana fest drew about 5,000 to the heart of downtown Ann Arbor Saturday.

Before the weekend, emcee Adam Brook said weather, more than any other factor, would determine the size of the weekend's crowd. The weather didn't disappoint, reaching 70 degrees by noon before rain and wind set in at 1:30 p.m.

Diane Brown, a spokeswoman with the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, said the crowd was larger than usual - but no problems occurred.

Campus officers made 10 arrests Saturday, all for marijuana possession. One was a U-M student, Brown said.

The penalty for smoking pot at the Hash Bash varies greatly between campus and city property. On city property, getting caught with a joint means a $25 fine; on state property, it's up to a year in jail.

Most hash bashers wait until the Monroe Street Fair on city streets to toke up. But now that Michigan has a medical marijuana program allowing upward of 10,000 patients to smoke marijuana under the protection of state law, many others in the crowd took the liberty to smoke, whether on university property or not.

The Hash Bash began with a "High Noon" rally on the Diag. From the steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library, Brook explained that campus police enforce state law, not the more liberal Ann Arbor statute.


From left: Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center employees Robby Samson, Tony Ascenzo, and Brenna Bunner talk to those wishing to become medical marijuana patients on Monroe St. during Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 3, 2010.

Angela J. Cesere |

Minutes later, Brook asked the medical marijuana patients in attendance to pull out their cards and their marijuana. Not only did registered patients smoke with impunity, so too did many healthy-looking young people.

After an hour of speakers, including John Sinclair, the Hash Bash headed south to the Monroe Street Fair. Vendors and a sound stage lined Monroe Street, and hundreds of people passed marijuana in ciphers on the lawn southeast of the Law Quad.

Now that marijuana has been approved for medicinal use in Michigan and in 12 other states, many at Saturday's event pushed for full-blown legalization.

"California should be the model," said James Peters of Decker, Mich. "They're talking about legalizing it outright - why should you have to be a patient to smoke?"

Tommy Cummings of Westland said he was surprised Michigan even got to the point of legalizing medical marijuana. Michigan is the only midwestern state that currently allows medical marijuana. California, which pioneered medical marijuana in 1996, is rallying momentum for a ballot initiative to legalize pot.

"Who could've ever guessed it would get to this point?" Cummings asked. "Why stop now - why not legalize it altogether? Look around. It happens anyway."

Click here to watch an audio slideshow of Hash Bash:

James David Dickson can be reached at


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 11:35 p.m.

let it be; let it be. mental emoluments are not to be criminalized excptep by the fearful.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.

"The weather didn't disappoint, reaching 70 degrees by noon before rain and wind set in at 1:30 p.m." I found the rain and wind "setting in" by 1:30 to be quite disappointing. :(

David Briegel

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

Their are still thousands of families and lives being destroyed by the insane, ineffective, wasteful, senseless, costly and futile "war on drugs". Quite simply, one of the most foolish mistakes in our nations history. Malcolm Kyle wrote an excellent post above. We don't need our police raiding MS patients with helmeted SWAT teams pointing automatic rifles at a sick woman in her home because she chose to grow her own medicine! We need to free the selectively prosecuted and punished thus saving huge sums in our prison system while making room the real criminals like the Wall Street banking class. If you believe pot causes brain damage, how do you explain the obvious brain damage to the foolish majority that supports the status quo? Re-Legalize, Prohibition doesn't work! You "free marketeers" should weigh in and demand a free market solution to the problem. Let the market decide. As for hate speech, that is the domain of the experts in the Mad Hatters party and our local talk radio station! Re-Legalize Pot, prohibition doesn't work. These are just some of the reasons I and so many more were at the rally yesterday in support of sanity.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 11:22 a.m.

Hash Bash...the only time when I don't tow people from my parking slot...them getting stone does not mellow them out enough to keep from trashing my vehicle. I found tye-dye unflattering in the 60's, and now, even moreso...and not surprising, the hippies of today smell just as bad as the hippies of yesterday...but the upside....a lot of tokers did spend money in the restaurants afterwards. yummm... french fries....


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

This was the BEST Hash Bash I have been to in years!

malcolm kyle

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

The war on drugs is a tale of a once great nation which fell down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world riddled with peculiar and dystopian logic. There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody 'halfway bright' and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to let legal businesses meet that demand. No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution? If you support prohibition then you've helped trigger the worst crime wave in history. If you support prohibition you've a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike. If you support prohibition you've helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons. If you support prohibition you've helped raise gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging. If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords. If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent. If you support prohibition you've helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets. If you support prohibition you've helped to escalate Theft, Muggings and Burglaries. If you support prohibition you've helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property. If you support prohibition you've helped overcrowd the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others. If you support prohibition you've helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 5:26 a.m.

Using the Diag blocks access to Hatcher, and the noise can't be drown out from anywhere inside. It's a university, the purpose is study. The celebration shouldn't be on campus. Then the punishments are lighter off campus, and then the students can study.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 1:54 a.m.

People "worry" about the health risks of pot and ignore the documented health risks of alcohol. Give people a choice! Marijuana is calming and apparently medicinal - I don't need it myself for that - but who ever said alcohol was medicinal? The wrong thing is legal! Stop jailing people for marijuana use and trafficing. Start regulating the sale and use of it and the USA might be solvent again, with little adverse affect on the population. Just my opinion as a former pot user (many, many years ago)who thinks legalization will be beneficial. Not using now, and won't, until I qualify for medicinal purposes or if it is legalized. Just saying...priorities need to be in order - old stereotypes need to fall to accommodate what people want today.


Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 10:39 p.m.

I hate hash bash

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

Especially don't smoke dope on federal property such as the parking lot behind the federal building. That would be a huge mistake. Marijuana should just be legalized, but until then it just isn't worth the risk of smoking illegally.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

Uncle Sam wants you to legalize it!


Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 7:45 p.m.

The Diag is now "the heart of downtown Ann Arbor?" When did that happen? I get that it's technically in the DDA, but it still seems a bit of a stretch.


Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 7:13 p.m.

The article implies that old, sickly looking people would be most likely to have a marijuana prescription: "Not only did registered patients smoke with impunity, so too did many healthy-looking young people." I don't know how the medical marijuana laws work in Michigan, but I have young friends in California (in their 20s) who have prescriptions for Marijuana to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. So I am not sure age or appearance of health is a good judge for whether or not someone is legally able to smoke up.

Tom Joad

Sat, Apr 3, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

Any arrest is a black mark on your record. The FBI maintains all arrest records for LIFE. Even if you work out a deal in court to have the charges dismissed after you complete probation or community service, your arrest record remains in the FBI database for your entire life. Be SMART. Don't smoke dope on state property, the University of Michigan campus.