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48th annual Hash Bash this weekend in Ann Arbor: What you need to know

Attendees at Hash Bash 2018. Credit | Meredith Bruckner

ANN ARBOR – Hash Bash is about to mark a major milestone. 

With the recent legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use in Michigan, users and cannabis advocates will gather to celebrate at what organizers believe could be the biggest Hash Bash ever.

But one of the event's organizers, and the community outreach coordinator at Om of Medicine, Lisa Conine, explains that the work is not done.

"It’s a well-deserved victory, so everyone should be celebrating," said Conine. "But the work isn’t done and it won’t be done for generations. Now that it’s passed, we need some actual leadership from the federal level to protect the industry that’s growing here.

"There’s still tons of injustices around cannabis and the enforcement of laws, even here in Michigan. Expungement is a big thing that people are looking at, which we should."

A new face

For the first time ever, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell will be speaking at Hash Bash. "It's a huge deal," said Conine. 

According to Conine, Dingell has stayed away from the topic of cannabis in the past. "She apparently had a family member that struggled with substance abuse so it’s very close to her heart," she said. 

Debbie Dingell speaks at the Ford School of Public Policy on April 12, 2017 (Credit: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy / University of Michigan)

 

"It took us a couple years, but we got her into our facility last May and she took a tour. By the end of that conversation, we met at the place of, ‘We need more research on cannabis.’ And so that’s her approach to it. Her stance is that she wants to understand more about it."

Hash Bash organizers hope Dingell's appearance will help garner federal support for forthcoming legislation. "She will be the first elected official on a federal level to speak at Hash Bash. We’re super excited about that," said Conine.

Schedule of events and background

In typical Hash Bash fashion, born and raised Ann Arborite musician Laith Al-Saadi will be playing the national anthem on guitar at "high noon" and lead into a spoken word performance by poet and activist John Sinclair from Flint.

"It’s purely Ann Arbor to kick it off, and I think it’s so important to keep that aspect intact as we move forward with Hash Bash just because the culture is so incredibly important," said Conine. "Culture is what has gotten us here."

Sinclair's arrest for possession is what started Hash Bash in the first place.

In 1969, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of two marijuana joints, which led to a boom of high-profile names calling for his release. Three days after John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder and other big-name artists and activists descended upon Ann Arbor for the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 1972, the Michigan Supreme Court declared the law used to convict him unconstitutional. He was freed and the state's marijuana statutes were temporarily left in limbo, so activists threw the first Hash Bash on the Diag at UM on April 1. 

Other speakers at this year's event include:

  • State Sen. Jeff Irwin 
  • State Rep. Yousef Rabhi
  • Dr. Sue Sisley, leading cannabis researcher 
  • Joel Zumaya, Detroit Tiger 
  • Dr. Gus Rosania, U of M professor who teaches PharmSci 420 
  • David Knezek, representing the Attorney General's office 
  • Dr. Daniel Kruger, U of M faculty 

Speakers will be addressing the crowd from noon to 2 p.m., and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. the following local bands will be performing:

  • Ma Baker
  • Honey Monsoon
  • Cosmic Knot 

Panels

On the Sunday after Hash Bash, organizers recently began holding panel discussions with cannabis experts aimed at educating the general public. This year, the two panels will take place at the University of Michigan Law School's Hutchins Hall at 625 S. State St. 

1 to 2 p.m. 
Full Spectrum Medicinal Cannabis vs. Synthetically Derived Cannabinoids

  • Dr. Gus Rosania, U of M professor who teaches PharmSci 420
  • Dr. Evan Litinas, Chief Medical Officer at Om of Medicine
  • Dr. Kevin Boehnke, U of M Research Fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center

2:05 to 2:20 p.m.
Dr. Andrew Brisbo, Director for the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, will briefly speak

2:25 to 3:30 p.m.
Current Cannabis Research and Impacts on Patients & Public Health

  • Dr. Sue Sisley, leading cannabis researcher 
  • Emma Chasen, cannabis educator and industry consultant
  • Dr. Daniel Kruger, U of M faculty 

Conine said the push toward legalization is what kept the event going for 48 years. 

"This is the only day for the last 48 years that cannabis consumers in Michigan could come out of the green closet, if you will, and say, ‘Hey, I’m here. I smoke. I can do it in public, you’re not going to arrest me.' And that’s a very liberating feeling and I think that that fueled people to stay even more motivated to fight for what we’re now celebrating today."

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