Thousands Gather for Annual Hash Bash 
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Thousands Gather for Annual Hash Bash 
Posted by CN Staff on April 02, 2017 at 05:57:34 PT
By Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press
Source: Detroit Free Press
Michigan -- Beer drinkers never held a party like this — not with politicians, a hospice manager and two dozen other speakers standing before a huge crowd to endorse their chosen form of intoxication, as both a civil right and health cure-all.But this was no beer bash that ran Saturday from "high noon" until 4 p.m. on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. It was the 47th annual Hash Bash — once again, a zany combo of stoner silliness, political activism and open marijuana smoking.
"Weed is what we need to succeed — let weed'om ring!" shouted Richard Clement, aide to Detroit City Councilman George Cushingberry III.Under sunny skies and waving flags of green, Clement and a roster of other speakers exhorted the crowd to become political missionaries for spreading the faith. That translated to helping gather the 253,000 signatures that backers will need to get a marijuana legalization question on 2018 ballots."Everybody rest up because sometime soon, probably in May, we're going to be on the street with petitions," Matt Abel, a Detroit lawyer and a board member of the MiLegalize petition group, told the crowd.The university takes pains to say it does not endorse the event — but can’t prevent it. This spring rite of speeches, live music and cannabis consumption takes place yearly at the U-M Diag, a plaza of diagonal sidewalks specially reserved for free speech.With nationwide sentiment growing to legalize marijuana, or at least to make possessing it a non-criminal infraction, Hash Bash 2017 drew a big crowd, one that swelled as the event progressed to an estimated 6,000 or 7,000 although attendance did not set a record — as nearly as organizers could determine. They've pegged the record at an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people set in 2015, when comedian and stoner film star Tommy Chong flew in from California.But setting another kind of Hash Bash record was the sheer length of the event, twice as long as last year's — four hours instead of two. At 2 p.m., the speeches ended to start two hours of music, starting with the rock band Cosmic Not.Contact HighFormer Detroit Red Wings star Darren McCarty was a no-show, as was State Sen. Coleman Young II, now running for mayor of Detroit. Both had been listed as speakers, although McCarty is still expected to lead a forum Sunday to discuss cannabis use by pro athletes. Also expected are former NFL star Eugene Monroe and NFL free agent Todd Herremans. The 2 p.m. forum is at Rackham Amphitheatre, 915 E. Washington.The Hash Bash crowd, originally almost entirely U-M students, included people of all ages, from 20-somethings who said they work in construction to dudes and ladies with graying ponytails and T-shirts from the event's early days. Not all were seen smoking cannabis, but all seemed sympathetic to making the drug legal."I think I'm getting enough" just being nearby without inhaling, said a chuckling Alice Gordon, 48, of Ann Arbor. Neither Gordon nor her friend Reine Grammatico, 50, also of Ann Arbor, were smoking but both agreed, as Gordon put it, "Let people do what they want."Fighting AbuseThe success of marijuana activism has unnerved those fighting drug abuse, Bethany Sanford, a community organizer with Downriver's SUDDS Coalition, said earlier in the week. The group, based in Allen Park and Southgate, works in 13 communities to keep youths from abusing alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, Sanford said. SUDDS stands for Stop Underage Drinking/Drugs Downriver.Despite the epidemics of heroin and opioid pill abuse, "right now, we’re focusing on marijuana,” she said.The reason is that pot has become too widely accepted, both as a recreation and as medicine, and because new state laws will offer a perplexing choice to communities next year — whether to allow tax-paying businesses that grow, process or sell medical marijuana, Sanford said. The tax revenues aren't worth it, she said."These cities need to be educated" about the risks of allowing such businesses in their midst, she said.Yet, to state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, the larger risk is keeping outdated drug laws. On Saturday, Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, made his first appearance at a Hash Bash and he thanked the crowd "for inviting me to speak at this historic event.""This is all about using marijuana safely, and we also all believe in being safe in our communities," Rabhi said, adding: "That's why we need to work for social justice, and racial justice, as part of this movement" toward legalization.Before each Hash Bash, university officials traditionally issue reminders that smoking marijuana is illegal. Campus police usually ring the crowd at a distance, smiling and chatting with onlookers. They typically make just a handful of arrests, collaring only those who flaunt the sale or use of pot. Although officers were hard to spot Saturday, as the event wound into its third hour, two of U-M's finest questioned two young men from Mt. Pleasant and held a jar of marijuana they'd confiscated.The officers brushed off a reporter, but as they strode away, one young fellow who declined to give his name said: "I'm happy with the situation. I didn't get arrested. They said I'd get something in the mail. I'm charged with a misdemeanor."He said the jar contained "about 2 ounces" of marijuana.Irony has been as ubiquitous in marijuana politics as tie-dyed T-shirts on Saturday. Last fall, just as the nation elected waves of conservatives, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved marijuana for “adult use” — a new term for recreational use. At the same time, residents of Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voted to legalize or expand their access to medical marijuana. What’s that mean for Michigan now?"Marijuana has majority support all throughout the country, and Michigan could see a more progressive society where home cultivators no longer see prison and jail sentences," said Hash Bash co-organizer Nick Zetell, 26, of Hamtramck after the event. Zetell is the campaign manager for the MiLegalize petition group.The Lansing-based group failed last year to get sufficient signatures within the controversial 180-day window enforced by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, and upheld in several court decisions, for ballot committees. The time limit is still being contested in court, by marijuana advocates as well as anti-fracking environmentalists.But Zetell joined others Saturday in pledging their efforts, and seeking the crowd's help, to launch the petition drive anew."It's just incredible to look out at this crowd — all sorts of people," Zetell told them.In restarting the petition drive, "we need to focus on unity," he said.Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)Author: Bill Laitner, Detroit Free PressPublished: April 1, 2017Copyright: 2017 Detroit Free PressWebsite: letters freepress.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on April 02, 2017 at 08:10:43 PT
One More Thing: "chosen form of intoxication"
How many times do we keep reading and hearing this lie!Cannabis/marijuana is NOT toxic! Therefore it is NOT an intoxicant! But, it can get you a criminal record and jail time, etc. etc.Yes, you can and should, according to some, get locked up over using a plant from mother nature/God, that is NOT toxic.Go, figure! It's all about competition and MONEY!How much longer do we need to hear and put up with all this bull!We are driven to drink and INTOXICATE ourselves, this is what our laws make us do, AND if we do get sick and we want to use cannabis/marijuana we get a ticket or jail time or probation.It's so sick and continues on and on...When will this insanity stop?
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on April 02, 2017 at 08:02:47 PT
Lies, lies, lies...
Disingenous: "The reason is that pot has become too widely accepted, both as a recreation and as medicine, and because new state laws will offer a perplexing choice to communities next year — whether to allow tax-paying businesses that grow, process or sell medical marijuana, Sanford said. The tax revenues aren't worth it, she said."I've been in this movement for a long, long time. It has always blown me away that drug and alcohol 'counselors' are hell bent against marijuana (re-) legalization or normalization with stores etc.I always thought that a drug and alcohol 'counselor' would have the interest of those they supposed to help, NOT SO: They only care about 'having enough' work so they can be more powerful and get paid (more).This is what it has always been about for most people MONEY!Not love of others, love of self, trying to make this world a better place. This is not a priority for MOST people and that's why we are where we are as a society!
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