A2 lights up for Hash Bash this weekend

BY ROB GOODSPEED
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 5, 2002

Marijuana aficionados nationwide will converge on Ann Arbor this weekend for the 31st annual Hash Bash planned for Saturday.

The planned activities include a vigil held at the Ann Arbor Federal Building at 11 a.m., and one hour of bands and speakers on the Diag from noon-1 p.m. In addition, the organizers have scheduled six speakers and two bands for the one hour slot on the Diag.

"There's going to be good weather ... we're expecting big crowds," Hash Bash organizer Adam Brook said.

Forecasters are predicting partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 50s.

The University's Department of Public Safety has also been planning for the event.

"There will be a full contingent of DPS officers enforcing state law and University ordinances," DPS spokeswomen Diane Brown said.

DPS made 26 arrests last year - only 5 had Ann Arbor addresses, and none were University students.

Brown said DPS made 150 arrests at Hash Bash in the last three years, and only one was a University student.

DPS will also assist the Ann Arbor Police Department enforce a ban on vendors along sidewalks surrounding the Diag area.

The ban was declared by interim City Administrator Ron Olson three weeks ago.

"A lot of people come to Ann Arbor with knowledge of Hash Bash," Angelica Leone, student liaison to the organizers of Hash Bash, said. Leone is also President of Hemp A2, a student organization dedicated to the decriminalization of marijuana.

"I think that most of the people at the event are not University students," Leone said.

Student organizers have had no problems reserving the Diag for the hour-long rally through the Office of Student Activities and Leadership.

"The event itself is the rally from 12 to 1 ... it's the other illegal acts that this event attracts that will be enforced," Brown said.

The annual celebration will begin tonight in an event organized by the University College Libertarians and Hemp A2.

The students have organized a pre-hash bash marijuana forum tonight, which will feature a taped debate about the legalization of marijuana, a short film about medical marijuana and a panel discussion.

Last year, Hemp A2 and the organizers of Hash Bash were focused on gathering signatures for a statewide initiative to legalize marijuana.

This year, organizer Adam Brook said the focus of the event has shifted to a memorial for two activists who died at an incident at Rainbow Farm.

Marijuana legalization activists Rolland Rohm and Tom Crosslin died on August 31, 2001 after tensions with local police surrounding a marijuana legalization rally had escalated into a full-blown standoff with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"It's the first time we've had music no the Diag for 7 or 8 years" said Brook, who added that the event will be less political than in past years.

"We want a celebratory atmosphere to remember our friends," Brook said.

Scheduled speakers at this year's Hash Bash include Tim Beck, of the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, Dan Salono of Police Officers for Drug Law Reform, and George Sherfield, the State Coordinator of the Michigan Marijuana Movement, the organization that has been involved in changing medical marijuana laws in the state.

Monroe Street will be closed Friday evening, where a "Hooka Festival" is planned with vendors and entertainment. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Richard Devarti, a manager at Dominick's Restaurant, the day of Hash Bash is among the busiest days of the year for his Restaurant.

"It helps business a lot," Devarti said "Usually it is one of our busiest days."