Participants in Ann Arbor’s 47th annual Hash Bash found themselves under the influence of more than just cannabis Saturday afternoon, as thousands gathered at the University of Michigan’s Diag: several politicians also found their way to the city’s popular weed festival, all hoping to convince voters they were biggest supporters of legalizing it. Many participants and organizers came hoping this year’s Hash Bash will be the last before marijuana is legalized in the state of Michigan. Many believe state Congress will approve ballot proposal in November to legalize the use of recreational marijuana for those 21 and older.

Speakers at this year’s event included many notable marijuana legalization activists and professional athletes, such as Detroit Lions running back Mike James, former Detroit Red Wings hockey player Darren McCarty and former NFL player Eugene Monroe. Local political figures addressed the crowd, including Ann Arbor City Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4; Councilmember Anne Bannister, D-Ward 1; and state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. State politicians such as gubernatorial candidates Abdul El-Sayed and Gretchen Whitmer also made appearances.

El-Sayed spoke on his support to legalize marijuana, stating the current law unjustly incarcerates youth.

“I’m here as a doctor and I’m here as a young servant, and I’m here because I’m done waiting while young people get arrested for something that should not be illegal,” El-Sayed said, according to MLive. “We’ve got to stand up and demand that we expunge records for marijuana possession and use … For too long we’ve watched as corporations have bought and sold our politics.”

Whitmer also voiced support for marijuana legalization, comparing other states’ legalization reforms and believing “we can do it better here in Michigan.”

“We are on the cusp of legalization in Michigan,” Whitmer said, according to MLive. “Number one: let’s just get it done. Number two: let’s regulate it so it doesn’t get in the hands of kids because I know no one here wants that, and let’s make sure that we’re taxing it — maybe we can get to work filling those damn potholes. Let’s fix those damn roads.”

LSA junior Amal Alzendani, the U-M campus field team leader for the El-Sayed campaign, came to the Diag to hear the candidate speak. 

It was great to see Abdul El-Sayed at Hash Bash engaging with voters to whom the issue of marijuana legalization is important,” she wrote in an email interview. “It seems clear that Abdul’s stances regarding marijuana, which include expunging the records of people who have previously been arrested for marijuana-related charges once it is legalized, should be the standard among democrats, as should the open and vocal support of its legalization that Abdul showed by having such a presence at Hash Bash.”

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