The Hash Bash in Ann Arbor Michigan might just be the longest running annual pot-party in the world. For 28 years crowds have gathered at the University of Michigan to celebrate cannabis culture and smoke themselves silly (except during the War Years of 1984-87). This year was no exception to this fine tradition, with over 5000 people getting together on April 3 to party like it was 1999!
This year’s pot-star line-up included Tommy Chong, Jack Herer, High Times editorial alumi Steve Hagar, and other celebrities.
The Ann Arbor Hash Bash started in 1972 as a way to celebrate the change in Michigan’s pot law from a felony to a misdemeanor. The spirit of marijuana tolerance was strong in Michigan at this time. In 1973 State Legislator Perry Bullard showed up to smoke a joint and make a speech. (Bullard remained a member of the Michigan Legislature until 1992, and died last year.)
Ann Arbor voters changed the City Charter in 1974 to set the fine for marijuana possession at $5. It stayed that way until 1990, when they voted to raise it to $25.
Under Michigan state law, possession of less than 25 grams of pot is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and/or one year in prison. There is also the lesser offense of “use of marijuana” which carries a maximum term of 90 days and/or a $100 fine.
A few weeks before the event, the Michigan Senate introduced a bill which would prohibit municipalities from having more lenient marijuana laws than the state. Similar measures have been introduced before, but none have passed. Such legislation is always aimed specifically at shutting down the Hash Bash.
Yet oddly enough the University grounds where the Hash Bash takes place is considered state property, so the revellers already face tougher penalties than if caught with pot on Ann Arbor’s streets.
State cops admitted to having a dozen undercover agents in the crowd during the bash, and they also brought in extra cops from outside the area to earn overtime watching the crowd. About 30 people got tickets for use or possession of marijuana, and another 50 got flagged for other violations, including illegally selling merchandise and public alcohol consumption.
Yet despite the cops and the hassle, 5000 people got together to celebrate cannabis culture and have a great time. They succeeded big time, and they’ll be back next year for sure!