Several thousand people gathered on the University of Michigan’s campus earlier this month for the annual Hash Bash, now in its 46th year.
Cannabis supporters met together on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor on April 1 for the 46th annual Hash Bash to rally in support of legalization. The university’s campus police estimated that there were more than 10,000 people that attended the event, which has evolved into a yearly rally cry to end prohibition.
Marijuana remains illegal in Michigan, except for medical purposes, but efforts are underway to put a recreational marijuana legalization measure on the 2018 ballot. A newly formed campaign, the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, has already released draft language for the ballot proposal. The law proposes legalizing marijuana for adults ages 21 and older and taxing it at the wholesale level. The coalition plans to start collecting signatures for the ballot initiative in May. Another group, MI Legalize, fell short in 2016 of collecting enough signatures but has its own plans for a 2018 ballot initiative.
Speakers ranging from cannabis activists to local politicians addressed the crowd gathered on the school’s Diag. New state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) said the war on drugs has been a failure, and has only led to wasted tax dollars and making it more difficult for those convicted from getting jobs later.
“I’m here with you today because the reality is, whether you like it or not, people are using marijuana, and so prohibition, it doesn’t work. And so what we need to be doing is looking at ways to decriminalize and legalize, so that we can ensure that everybody is using marijuana safety. It is about safe usage,” Rabhi said, voicing his support for the marijuana ballot initiative.
Rabhi added that legalizing and regulating marijuana would generate more tax revenue for the state to spend on schools and roads. Financial news site 24/7 Wall St. has projected legalizing recreational marijuana in Michigan would bring in $273 million in annual tax revenue for the state.
Former NFL player and outspoken advocate of marijuana use for football players Eugene Monroe spoke on the importance of everyone having access to cannabis. Monroe last year donated $80 thousand dollars to cannabis research for pain and concussions.
The crowd heard from several other speakers, including Ann Arbor City Council Members Jack Eaton and Jason Frenzel, and former Hash Bash organizers Adam Brook and John Sinclair.
Longtime cannabis activist and retired kindergarten teacher Chuck Ream urged the crowd to vote for cannabis-friendly representatives in local, state and national elections and to remain united in its legalization efforts. While he was involved in helping put together MI Legalize, he now fully supports the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign.
“We have seen our people arrested and fined and jailed, their property confiscated, their children taken away, their student loans prevented, their housing denied, their driver’s licenses taken away, promising lives wrecked,” Ream said. “We will have legalization in 2018. The only question is whether we are united or divided. We could fairly easily sail to victory in 2018 under the umbrella of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.”
Eight U.S. states have passed laws lifting prohibition and legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults. Federally, however, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I substance. There’s some concern among advocates that the Trump administration and its Department of Justice could pose a threat to marijuana states, but a recent report from Arcview suggests that the industry will continue its growth regardless of interference from the federal government.
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