|Hash Bash Mash & Cash
Posted by FoM on April 03, 2000 at 19:37:28 PT
By Will Stewart, News Staff Reporter
Source: Michigan Live
The usual coalition of stoners, bikers, students and the just plain curious gathered on the University of Michigan's Diag Saturday, giving new meaning to the term "melting pot."
The Hash Bash, Ann Arbor's unofficial rite of spring, attracted some 5,000 participants, scores of vendors, a handful of arrests and a heady - if remarkably smoke-free - vibe to the 29th annual event.
"If you came here to get high, this is probably the wrong place to be," said Aaron Smither, a University of Michigan graduate from Southfield, who attended three Hash Bashes as a student during the 1980s and returned Saturday to find things different than he remembers them.
"I think people come here to see what all the fuss is about, but everyone's too scared to light up," he said.
Smither said he remembers a different scene during his student days. Marijuana smoking wasn't overt back then, he said, but it was clearly more prevalent than what he experienced Saturday.
"On the other hand, it looks like a lot of us took care of that before we got here," he he said.
For another thing, he said, the event has become far more commercial than it used to be, with vendors selling everything from hand-blown marijuana pipes to T-shirts depicting Bugs Bunny at the Hash Bash.
"Bugs on Drugs," shouted one vendor, hawking the shirts.
Steven Grimes, who drove with friends from Indianapolis to sell marijuana paraphernalia to Hash Bash participants, said he was disappointed to find that he needed a city-issued permit to vend his goods. However, he said he still was enjoying brisk sales of his wooden pot pipes and plastic marijuana leis that countless revelers were spotted wearing around their necks.
While the underground economy enjoyed a steady trade, some legitimate downtown businesses said the annual event is bad for business.
Jim Leonard, working the floor at his SKR Classical music store, said his customers - hardly the Hash Bash Crowd - tend to stay away during the event.
"It's just an Ann Arbor thing," he said. "Like a football Saturday."
Officially, anyway, the Hash Bash remains true to its roots in that organizers use their one hour of public-address time allotted them by U-M officials to promote legalization of marijuana.
On Saturday, the focus was on collecting signatures to place the so-called "Personal Responsibility Amendment" on the statewide ballot for November's general election. The initiative would permit marijuana use in private homes.
"This is something we've asked for year after year after year - and now we're tired of asking," said Greg Schmidt, the amendment's chief organizer. "So instead of breaking the laws, we're out to change the laws."
Speakers - mostly from the pro-pot magazine "High Times" - heaped good-natured verbal abuse on the police officers dotting the crowd Saturday - particularly when officers moved in to cut off the event's PA system, as scheduled, at 1 p.m.
However, officials said the event - all things considered - went off with few hitches.
"For the Hash Bash, it's pretty much been business as usual," said U-M Department of Public Safety Lt. Gary Hill. "There were a lot of arrests for marijuana and alcohol, but that's to be expected.
In all, he said, U-M officers made about 35 arrests - 25 for marijuana possession and another 10 for open intoxicants.
Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Lyle Sartori said city police made a handful of warrant arrests after traffic stops, but said managing traffic snarls was the biggest Hash Bash-related problem.
By 1:30 p.m., most revelers had cleared out of the Diag - many heading to a party outside of Casa Dominick's on Monroe Street, and others onto the sidewalks of South State Street, which remained choked throughout the afternoon.
While many in the crowd listened attentively to the dozen or so speakers that filled the hour of speeches between "high" noon and 1 p.m., the majority in the crowd appeared more interested in dancing along to the rhythms of an impromptu drum circle, kicking foot bags or just hanging out with friends.
Meanwhile, many residents took advantage of a pleasant spring day to walk dogs and strollers through the glassy-eyed crowds.
"It's like some sort of blissed-out harmonic convergence," said Heather Dykert, 27, of Royal Oak, who traveled to Ann Arbor with friends for her first-ever Hash Bash. "We're all kindred spirits and we come together to enjoy one another and enjoy the bounty that Mother Nature provides us."
And that's just fine with Hash Bash organizer Adam Brook - just as long as the political message isn't lost on everyone.
"This is about changing people's attitudes," he said. "But it's also about bringing people together to have a good time."
Will Stewart can be reached at (734) 994-6701.
Published: April 2, 2000
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Ann Arbor Hashbash
Freedom Network's Guide To Hash-Bash 2000
Hopes Set High for 29th Hash Bash at U. Michigan
Annual Hash Bash Draws Differing Points of View
Comment #1 posted by Happy on April 03, 2000 at 23:14:39 PT:
Whichever great mind came up with the sit in, it worked fine on this day. When the crowd spread out and sat down, the police became obvious, literally standing out. They huddled then eventually waded their way to the edges. When everyone stood up and crammed into the stage, I started thinking "Light em up" and Adam Brooke said "I'm not saying obstruct officers, but of course the'll be slowed." as the crowd packed in shoulder to shoulder. The day suddenly smelled much better.
The reasons to leaglize are too many to fit on this page, but it is the truth that the cannabis plant, both industrial hemp and medical marijuanna, has been common and well used for thousands of years, improving the whole planet. It figures that when it was made illegal it destroyed a vital part of humanity.
Mans first cultivated plant, the root of all religions and the most common medicine worldwide, made illegal to feed a prison-like state, worse then any addiction. We have taken steps toward freedom.
And a good time was had by all!