Go Ahead, Light Up 

Go Ahead, Light Up 
Posted by CN Staff on April 07, 2005 at 18:01:37 PT
Source: Michigan Daily
Michigan -- Hundreds of people flooded the Diag this past Saturday for the annual Hash Bash protest against the illegality of marijuana, and activists reiterated calls for the University and the state to model decriminalization measures off of statutes Ann Arbor’s existing statutes. Legalization activists also celebrated the passage of Proposal C, a city ballot initiative permitting the use of medicinal marijuana that passed with nearly 75 percent of the vote. Though there is some cause for celebration, numerous obstacles remain to be tackled. 
While this year’s Hash Bash attracted about 900 protesters and spectators — up from roughly 650 last year — it is nowhere near the size it once was. Much more than an opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of marijuana, Hash Bash embodies a political movement. If Ann Arbor residents and University students wish to see marijuana laws repealed, apathy must be the first thing to go.Believing that Hash Bash is merely a celebration to consume marijuana, many University students remain unaware of the politics that motivated the first Hash Bash 34 years ago. In the 1960s, a Hill Street resident named John Sinclair was arrested multiple times for possession of minimal amounts of marijuana. His absurd 10-year sentence led 15,000 people to stage a protest in and around Crisler Arena. These efforts compelled local citizens not only to push for the legal reclassification of marijuana possession within Ann Arbor from a felony to a misdemeanor, but also to stage the original Hash Bash in order to build momentum toward future reform.Current decriminalization efforts have focused on legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. In November 2004, voters resoundingly approved Proposal C, which legalized medicinal marijuana in Ann Arbor. While it is encouraging that Ann Arbor citizens recognize the benefits of responsible marijuana use, county, state and federal laws still impose stiff legal penalties on those caught in possession. Marijuana reform needs to take hold across the state, and the disparity between Ann Arbor’s fines for marijuana use and the punitive measures taken under the state laws that are enforced on University grounds — a $25 fine off campus versus a $100 fine, a maximum 90-day jail sentence and possible expulsion from the University — needs to be resolved.On a larger scale, the decriminalization of marijuana — which must be catalyzed by grass-roots activism such as Hash Bash — could lead to a larger trend. Since the so-called war on drugs began, penalties for nonviolent drug possession have become increasingly stiff, and prisons across the country have been overburdened with thousands of nonviolent, nonthreatening drug users. The state of Michigan appropriates more money per year to corrections than it does to higher education mainly because of the exploding cost of housing “criminals” who pose no danger to society. Local activism such as Hash Bash has the potential to send a message to legislators and officials: Excessively harsh drug laws are neither popular nor necessary.Local protests such as Hash Bash must not diminish in size or influence. The local success of Proposal C should be used to build a larger statewide coalition to tackle troublesome marijuana laws at the state level. This year’s modest increase in turnout was insufficient. It is time that Hash Bash be revived to the size it once was, with renewed political zeal, to fight for sweeping reform of Michigan’s absurd drug laws.Note: Hash Bash turnout too low to impel change.Newshawk: SukoiSource: Michigan Daily (MI Edu)Published: April 07, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Michigan DailyContact: daily.letters umich.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:UM NORML NORML Bash Students Light Up for Reform of Weed Laws of a Bash, More Issues To Hash Bash Organizers Hope To Increase Turnout
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 13, 2005 at 15:21:49 PT
Related Article from Michigan Review
Stick This in Your Pipe and Smoke ItBy Carrick RogersVolume XXI- Issue 10THE HASH BASH is an annual pot-legislation rally on the Diag. The pictures speak for themselves—but we went on ahead and added commentary anyway. Hash Bash’s speakers might damage the legitimate movement to legalize marijuana. They provide radical sound bites that made the five o’clock news, while the voices of reason go unheard. For example take Chuck Ream, a Scio Township Trustee who led last year’s drive to decriminalize medical marijuana in Ann Arbor. I had gone to Hash Bash hoping he would prove a voice a reason, telling the world about the possibilities medical marijuana has a pain killer and appetite stimulate, and how its side affects are less severe than many other drugs on the market. Instead Mr. Ream took the stage and began to tell the crowd how the right wing wants to prevent cultural evolution, that it supports racism and threatens every moral principal of America. To him President Bush is Ayatollah Bush and the War on Drugs is an attempt to perform ethnic cleansing. He went on rant about how the right wing needs religious war to maintain power. Mr. Ream’s solution to all of this was everyone needs use the “magical, magical teaching plants [marijuana] to connect with nature.” Stoned people don’t start wars after all, they just shoot teenagers that won’t kiss them. Another Hash Bash speaker was Gatewood ‘Gabe’ Galbraith, a Kentucky attorney and the “Last Free Man in America.” Mr. Galbraith say he claims that title as a challenge to others to become as free as he is, specifically to be willing to die to oppose the bloated and oppressive police that at America has become. Mr. Galbraith continued on the same theme as Mr. Ream, blaming all of America’s problems on the military, transnational corporations, pharmaceutical companies and the petrol chemical industry, all of whom he referred to as “sons of bitches.” He was also fond of the fascism references, referring to the right wing as “Neo-Nazi’s.” These two speakers sum up the problem that is Hash Bash. Before the event I knew on an intellectual level that marijuana makes people paranoid. But I didn’t consider it sufficient reason not to use medical marijuana, after all many other drugs have the same side affect. But when I discovered how paranoid and irrational these people are it made me rethink my position on marijuana. If marijuana is legalized thousands, if not millions of Americans will experiment with it. While no one knows how many of these people will follow in the footsteps of Mr. Ream or Mr. Galbraith it would likely amount to a significant number due to the sheer number of people trying it. All of these people will need an outlet for their paranoia and seize upon some issue to fight for. How many people will end up in Montana as paranoid lunatics fighting the government’s plans to implant microchips into our skulls instead of ending up as a happy, normal Americans attempting to fulfill whatever dreams they might have. MR
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