Thousands braved the cold and snow on April 2 to attend the twin events that make up the Hash Bash and Monroe Street Fair.
Those that came got to hear Tommy Chong tell of his healing from cannabis. Darren McCarty said, "I haven't had a drink in six months- and it's because of marijuana." Chong led a massive light-up at 4:20 pm at the Fair.
It was a great day.
The annual marijuana protest takes place in the heart of University of Michigan's main campus in Ann Arbor, and the Fair is held just two blocks south of there. Despite varying laws regarding smoking on campus- still illegal- and smoking marijuana openly on the street in Ann Arbor- a $25 ticket- Bashers and Fairgoers alike freely burned little white and brown sticks.
More than two dozen other speakers addressed the crowd- which was larger-than-average for Bashes of late- including the legendary John Sinclair, Dan Skye from High Times magazine, cannabis breeder extraordinaire DJ Short, Rep. Jeff Irwin, Matthew Abel of MINORML, Jeff Hank of MILegalize, longtime Bash emcee Adam Brook, and other patient advocates. This year's emcees were Mark Passerini and Erin Dunne of the U of M chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Hash Bash was extended to two hours, and most of the crowd stayed until the bitter end. The end was bitter, as the snowfall was greatest during the final speeches by attorneys David Rudoi of Royal Oak and the Chair of the Marijuana Law Section of the Michigan Bar Association, Bernard Jocuns of Lapeer.
Where the Hash Bash is about speeches and politics, the Fair is all about fun. Entertainment, music and vendors are the key to a successful fair- and Charlie Strackbein has been doing the Monroe Street Fair for years. He negotiated to expand the fair to include another block of Monroe Street, and the attendees appreciated the extra vendors and easier walking space.
More space was a good thing. The guitarist for Mugen Hoso jumped off stage and into the crowd- shirtless- and jammed his guitar like a machine gun just inches from Fair participants, who were loving the thrash punk band from Tokyo's intense performance. Also killing it on stage was the rock band Kung Fu Lovers, who thumped out their Zeppelin-esque sounds during the snowfall.
Chong was readily available for fans to interact with at the Fair. Monroe Street was just one of the many events he headlined during a busy few days in Michigan. BDT Pipe and Tobacco shops were primarily responsible for bringing the cultural icon to Michigan, and they hosted a private meet-and-greet with him in Hazel Park that was attended by the mayor, City Manager, Fire Chief and various Council members.
Two different petition drives to legalize marijuana in Michigan were present at both events collecting signatures. The inclement weather did claim one casualty- a fundraiser for the MILegalize group scheduled for later that evening was cancelled and has not been rescheduled yet. MILegalize will have a large 4/20 fundraising event at the Russell Industrial Complex, Matthew Abel confirmed.
This year marks the 45th Hash Bash and the 15th Monroe Street Fair. The Ann Arbor News reports that three people were arrested by University police for possession of marijuana, possibly the lowest number of arrests in recent years; the number of arrests rarely exceeds 10 on any Hash Bash day.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles