Cannabis News Stop the Drug War!
  Sinclair Remains Popular
Posted by FoM on April 08, 2001 at 09:53:53 PT
By Geoff Larcom, News Staff Reporter 
Source: Michigan Live 

medical The hair is close-cropped, not the wild and wavy style he sported in the early '70s, when "Free John Now" became the mantra of the pro-pot set around the country. But the fervor remains for John Sinclair, who spoke on the Diag to a packed-in crowd of about 5,000 Saturday for the 30th annual Hash Bash.

The rally itself was peaceful, but several hours later, officers from the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety charged two men with resisting arrest.

U-M police reported arresting 23 people and ticketing three during the afternoon. Twenty two were cited for marijuana possession, said DPS spokesperson Diane Brown. Only five of those arrested had Ann Arbor addresses, she said, and none was a U-M student.

Sinclair, who served two years in prison after being arrested for possessing two joints, recalled Ann Arbor's first Hash Bash, in 1971.

"Thirty years later and Ann Arbor is still in the vanguard," he said, noting the city's charter provision, which only requires a $25 fine if you are arrested on city property for possession of marijuana.

Sinclair was one of several speakers urging bash participants to sign a petition calling for the legalization of marijuana for private and medical use in Michigan.

"Hemp, hemp, hooray," the crowd cheered, as speakers and petition workers emphasized working within the system. Trena Moss, of Hillsdale, dressed as a big, red bong, worked the crowd to gather some of the more than 300,000 signatures needed to put the issue to a vote.

"We're following the rules in order to change the rules," she said.

A few participants in the crowd could be seen smoking, and police hauled several away, but the bash lacked the fragrant haze that typified the event in the mid-1970s.

The rally lasted from noon to shortly after 1 p.m., when the crowd began to disperse through the Diag onto adjacent streets. From there, the event became more of a sidewalk festival, with students playing hacky sack and various groups dancing in circles to drum beats.

Most of the crowd came from out of town, including Becky Reddam, a high school student from Muskegon who had heard about the bash but did not consider herself an activist. "There's nothing to do in Muskegon," she said.

Vendors capitalized on the throng and the fair weather. State Street resembled a mini-art fair, with food, clothes, T-shirts and, of course, devices for smoking marijuana on sale. The sidewalk businesses included Higher Ground, a glassmaker from Columbus, Ohio, that did brisk pipe sales throughout the afternoon.

Many in the mostly young crowd talked away on cell phones, putting a present-day stamp on what once was Ann Arbor's ultimate counter-culture event.

Sinclair's presence lent a distinctive local flair and sense of history to the event. He spoke about attending the recent Cannabis Cup, an annual event in Amsterdam, Holland that celebrates the varieties of the drug, and recalled when Ann Arbor's pot law was first introduced as a $5 fine.

After Sinclair spoke, waves of well-wishers greeted him on the steps of the U-M Graduate Library. He signed autographs, posed for pictures and fielded praise from people glad to see the returning hometown hemp hero.

"He's the elder spokesman of a generation," said Ann Arbor's Terrance O'Sullivan, himself an activist in the 1970s.

Billy Colburn, a recent Huron graduate who said he plans to join the U.S. Army, shook Sinclair's hand and thanked him. "I appreciate all the work you did in Ann Arbor to make it the way it is for kids today," he said.

Sinclair will turn 60 in October, "an age I never anticipated," he said, adding that he visits here two to three times a year and stays in touch with the activists from his wilder Ann Arbor days, such as Pun Plamondon.

Sinclair was born in Davison, near Flint. After living in Ann Arbor from 1971 to 1975, he lived in Detroit for 15 years, then moved in 1991 to New Orleans, where he has carved out a life mainly in the mainstream.

He edits a blues magazine, writes a bit, does a radio gig and performs in a group that has produced several CDs, which Sinclair offered for sale Saturday. He has four daughters, ranging in age from 29 to 34 - two of his own and two step-daughters from his second wife.

Sinclair said that after leaving Ann Arbor on Saturday, he would have dinner in Detroit's Greektown neighborhood with one of his daughters.

"I'm a family man now," he said.

Note: 23 reported arrested at mostly peaceful rally to legalize marijuana.

Geoff Larcom can be reached at:

Source: Michigan Live (MI)
Author: Geoff Larcom, News Staff Reporter
Published: Sunday, April 8, 2001
Copyright: 2001 Michigan Live Inc.

Related Articles & Web Sites:

Ann Arbor Hash Bash


30th Hash Bash To Fill Diag This Weekend

Editorial Special Section: Free the Weed - PDF Format

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Comment #4 posted by meagain on April 09, 2001 at 05:40:43 PT
5,000 may have been an agreeable number at noon but at 4:30 pm as i was leaving there still was hordes of people making their way towards the bash. I was really suprised and amazed (explains my walkin around in a daze) at the show of people. The fact that this event was peaceful should show the powers that be the cannabis culture people are NOT the problem in society that some people claim.

Next year will be there !!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 08, 2001 at 18:05:50 PT
Hi Richard
Thank You Richard,
That was quite a compliment being considered a sister site to MapInc. I really do appreciate all that you and others have done for me to make this little dream called Cannabisnews a reality. What makes this web site special is all the wonderfully talented, thoughtful and compassionate people that visit here and share their feelings on an article. It has a good cross section of those who seem to be teachers and those who are eager to learn about the drug war. I really like that a lot. That's what makes this forum special. Thank You Again and I'll read all about the Hash Bash now that I answered you.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Richard Lake on April 08, 2001 at 17:02:14 PT:

See: PRAyes website:
I agree that the Hash Bash and the kickoff for the PRAyes effort was a great success and a lot of fun. My fifth year at the Hash Bash, up on the stage. Oh, the 5,000 figure for folks there at noon was perhaps a little high (well, you know how it is) but it is what the reporter and I agreed on. We discussed the crowd at length. It was smaller than some years, but then the weather does that. However, those who really supported our efforts represented a higher percent of the group. Much thanks to the folks who make it happen!

Below is a little report I wrote on the kickoff meeting Friday:

This report is online at

Pubdate: Fri, 06 Apr 2001

Author: Richard Lake
Note: Like my report last spring on the Drug Policy Foundation conference, this is a very rare personal report on a newsworthy event.


Today reform leaders from across Michigan gathered to launch the Personal Responsibility Amendment petition drive as indicated in the Ann Arbor News article at

NORML's national director, Keith Stroup, was the keynote speaker. Other speakers MAP readers may recognize (at least a search of the MAP archives will turn up articles about them) were Elvy Musikka and Renee Wolf. Attorney Gregory Schmid, the director of the petition drive, briefed everyone on this year's effort. As indicated in the Ann Arbor News, last year's effort was short by about half the over 300,000 signatures needed.

So the question reporters were asking was why could this year's signature drive be successful? The answers were as follows:

1. Initiatives in Michigan have a 180 day signature gathering period. Last year's period started in January, not prime time for gathering signatures in the cold of Michigan winters. Thus last year's drive didn't really get started until nice weather in April. The signature drive -- started today -- has 180 days of nice weather for signature gathering.

2. The returning leaders from last year's drive have learned much from that experience and are already using better plans for the new effort.

3. There is a growing recognition of the importance of the effort, as indicated by the endorsement of the keynote speaker and many others.

Still, it will take many hundreds of folks gathering hundreds, if not thousands, of signatures from registered voters to make it happen. While this effort is off to a better start than last year's effort, more funds are needed quickly to print all the petitions and other materials required as well as for mailings to local signature gatherers and coordinators across the state.

For complete details, including printable petitions, visit this website now:

Please pass this report to anyone you think may be able to help with this effort.

Your Sr. Editor at MAP is moving from Ohio to upper Michigan this month with a goal of spending at least a little time each day gathering signatures -- away from the computer screen. The last time I participated in an effort like this was the California Marijuana Initiative of 1972.

Newshawks, I hope you will find and send to all of the news items from Michigan about this effort. And, of course, any other initiative efforts -- which are always of interest to the readers of this clipping service.

As always, a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteer newshawks, editors, letter to the editor writers, and everyone else who helps make it happen at MAP!

Richard Lake

p.s. Thank you FoM, for all you are doing! All of us at MAP are so happy to provide you the webspace and other support we do. We think of cannabisnews as our sister site!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by meagain on April 08, 2001 at 14:54:01 PT
Got blackcats?
The bash was awsome. My first time there can't wait till next year. Someone should invite some fireworks venders too ;)~ !!

[ Post Comment ]

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