Marijuana legalization is gaining momentum in Michigan. While lawmakers contemplate the question of legalizing cannabis in the state, thousands turned out for the annual Hash Bash rally in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
Among the crowd gathered on the University of Michigan campus for the Hash Bash were marijuana legalization advocates alongside local politicians. An estimated 10,000 people attended this year’s event, and many say it was the largest crowd ever to show up.
Several prominent speakers voiced their support for marijuana legalization in Michigan. Former NFL player Eugene Monroe, state Representative Yousef Rabhi, and two Ann Arbor City Council members spoke to the raucous crowd, many of whom were waving cannabis flags and openly smoking weed.
Michigan Hash Bash founders Adam Brook and John Sinclair were also there. Sinclair reminded everyone that there is still much work to do before marijuana legalization reaches the state and national level.
“We still have the task of freeing the weed from the police bureaucracy, the courts, the governor and all these idiots,” Sinclair told gatherers, as cited by M Live. “Now that we’re all residents of Trumpville, it’s going to be even harder. We’ll be lucky to be able to stand up in public a year from now if Trump’s still there. This is not what they’re looking for in the great America they’re talking about.”
Sinclair helped organize the Hash Bash after being released from prison for a 1969 marijuana possession charge. Originally sentenced to 10 years, he was released in 1971 after the Michigan Supreme Court deemed the punishment too severe. The very first Hash Bash was held in 1972.
Michigan lawmakers hope to put marijuana legalization on the 2018 ballot. In a proposal drafted by the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, anyone 21 and over would be permitted to buy and possess cannabis. The suggested legislation would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana much like it does alcohol. Also, anyone previously convicted of a nonviolent marijuana crime would have the opportunity to expunge their record as well.
Representative Rabhi supports the language of the marijuana legalization proposal. A state-regulated weed industry would bring in much-needed revenue to Michigan, funds that could be used to improve schools, roads, and other infrastructure.
According to him, the current war on cannabis consumes millions of dollars and makes criminals out of everyday citizens. As reported by the same M Live article, prohibition is clearly a failure in Rabhi’s eyes.
“I’m here with you today because the reality is, whether you like it or not, people are using marijuana, and so the 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 safely. It is about safe usage.”
Ann Arbor City Council Member Jack Eaton, another Hash Bash speaker, told the crowd that marijuana was decriminalized in the city more than four decades ago and hasn’t seen any uptick in crime since. Officials in Ann Arbor will continue to pursue the fight for legalized cannabis in Michigan, he added.
While marijuana legalization is gaining traction nationwide as more and more states embrace the once-despised plant, it is still unclear if the Trump administration will interfere with state laws concerning the drug. Current national law describes cannabis as an illegal substance, so efforts to make pot legal at the state level may be jeopardized by the federal government. However, any anti-marijuana efforts made by the current administration may be met by tremendous backlash as the majority of Americans want legal weed.
For the most part, Saturday’s Hash Bash in support of marijuana legalization in Michigan went off without a hitch. University of Michigan campus police only arrested one person for marijuana possession, impounded a small of amount of weed from five individuals, and gave out two traffic citations.
[Featured Image by Donald Weber/Getty Images]