1972 : First Hash Bash Held in Ann Arbor

April 1, 2018 all-day

With their usual shouts of “Free the weed!” beneath hand-painted banners and leafy green flags, marijuana users and their pals by the thousands are set to gather Saturday in Ann Arbor for the 47th annual Hash Bash — a quirky combination of stoner silliness, political activism and open marijuana smoking that’s held smack in the middle of a college campus.

The University of Michigan takes pains to say it does not endorse the event — but can’t prevent it. The spring rite of speeches, live music and cannabis consumption lands always on the first Saturday of April at the U-M Diag, a plaza of diagonal sidewalks specially reserved for controversial free speech.

At each Hash Bash, campus police traditionally remind the crowd that smoking marijuana is illegal, then ring the group, although they do so at a distance, smiling and chatting with onlookers, and typically arrest only those who flaunt the sale or use of pot.

Some credit John Sinclair, the gray-haired poet and lifelong political activist, for starting it all.  Sinclair had his 10-year prison sentence for marijuana possession overturned in 1971 after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan’s marijuana laws were unconstitutional. That news triggered the spontaneous occurrence of Hash Bash No. 1 on April 1, 1972, igniting rebellious fervor within a short and some said glorious window when Michigan had no law against marijuana on the books, according to previous Free Press reports.

For the full article, see Bill Laitner, “Hash Bash coming to the University of Michigan’s Diag on Saturday“, Detroit Free Press, March 31, 2017

Bill Laitner, “Thousands gather for annual Hash Bash seeking legalization“, Detroit Free Press, April 2, 2017.

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