Hash Bash '04 turnout not as high as expected

BY ASHLEY DINGES AND DONN M. FRESARD
Daily Staff Reporters
Published April 4, 2004

The smell of incense wafted through the Diag Saturday as
costumed demonstrators, middle-aged activists and
hacky-sack-playing students gathered together amid the sound of
bongo drums to participate in Ann Arbor’s 33rd Annual Hash
Bash.

Ryan Nowak
Anthony Franciola of Fort Wayne, Ind., lights a bong for his wheelchair-bound mother, Jeanean Franciola of Manchester, during the Hash Bash rally on Saturday. Jeanean Franciola has multiple sclerosis and said she smokes marijuana to give herself an appeti

Hash Bash organizer Adam Brook said he was pleased with the
turnout, which the University’s Department of Public Safety
estimated at 1,500. Brook had previously said he expected 50,000
people to attend.

The event began at the Ann Arbor Federal Building at 11 a.m.,
when demonstrators congregated and marched to the Diag for the
“High Noon” rally. Attendees later moved to Monroe
Street for a block party.

Speakers at the noon gathering included writer Jack Herer,
author of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” poet John
Sinclair and George Sherfield, director of the Michigan chapter of
the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana
Laws.

“In the end this was one of the best we’ve had in
years,” Brook said.

A main focus of this year’s event was the issue of
marijuana use for medical purposes. Julie Bonnett, a musician and
hemp vendor, was one of several women dressed as a “naughty
nurse” in order to promote awareness of the medical marijuana
initiative.

“Today we’re in support of the medicinal marijuana,
because the drug war needs to be ended,” Bonnett said.

Bonnett wore jewelry made of fake marijuana leaves and a nurse
costume which read, “Free the weed.”

DPS reported six arrests for violation of the controlled
substance act, in this case marijuana. Two of the six were
University students.

DPS only issued tickets for the “High Noon” event.
The Ann Arbor Police Department was responsible for issuing
violations for the Federal Building march and the Monroe Street
block party, but they said they could not provide statistics for
the number of arrests.

“(Arrests in) the last two years are considerably down
from previous years, but the crowds are also smaller,” DPS
spokeswoman Diane Brown said.

Eight other citations were given during “High Noon,”
including four tickets for sales and solicitation of merchandise
such as necklaces and shirts and two tickets for possession of
alcohol on the Diag.

Brown said the majority of tickets given in past years have been
to nonstudents. “In the last six events, including
(Saturday), DPS has arrested or cited 212 persons, four of whom
were U-M students,” Brown said.

A DPS arrest for possession of marijuana can generally lead to a
fine of up to $2,000 and one year in prison, while use of marijuana
is a $100 fine and up to 90 days in prison. But these penalties can
vary depending on the amount in possession, and repeat
offenses.

The AAPD fine for use of marijuana on city property is $25.

DPS enforces state law infractions, while AAPD enforces a city
ordinance that differs from state law, which results in the
differing penalties.

Brook suggested that DPS should take a more lenient approach to
marijuana smoking, citing as an example the AAPD’s tolerance
of open use at the Monroe Street block party.

“There was nobody arrested there,” he said.
“On city property there were people smoking copious amounts
of marijuana.

“They don’t have to arrest people for smoking
marijuana at the Hash Bash — they choose to arrest
people,” Brook said. “(Saturday), marijuana was not
something that was a big shocker in Ann Arbor. … People kind
of expected it, it wasn’t a big deal. Nor is it a big deal
any other day of the week.”

Although the majority of attendees were not from the Ann Arbor
area, many students were present. The University chapter of NORML
was the student sponsor of the event.

Other students, such as College Libertarians Vice Chair Andrew
Moylan, worked at a table on the Diag during the rally and
attempted to gather signatures in support of the Ann Arbor medical
marijuana initiative.

If enough signatures are received, the issue could appear on the
ballot in the November city elections. Moylan, an LSA junior, said
College Libertarians collected “a couple of pages” of
signatures at Saturday’s event.

“We’ve been relatively successful,” Moylan
said. “I really don’t think it’s out of the
question to have it on the ballot.”

He added that one difficulty in gathering signatures is
confirming that voters are registered in Ann Arbor. “Since
they’re not registered in the city they can’t
sign,” he said. “Most students who come aren’t
registered voters.”

Hillsdale resident Trena Moss, dressed as a bong, was among the
demonstrators on the Diag.

“I don’t know why our politicians don’t have
compassion for the sick people who need marijuana,” Moss
said. “If they pass the medical marijuana here in Ann Arbor,
I’m considering moving.”

Not all students who attended were interested in the issues at
hand or the speakers. LSA junior Amanda Glasgow and Western
Michigan University student Rick Rivers stood on the outskirts of
the rally.

“We just saw it, and wanted to laugh at the people
mostly,” Glasgow said. “There seems to be an age gap
— there are young kids and older people. I don’t get
what they’re saying about liberating themselves —
they’re all white middle-class people.”