Hash Bash 2023: Marijuana Advocacy Concerns Linger in Michigan

Hash Bash, Ann Arbor’s annual celebration of weed on the first Saturday of April each year, features an entire day of entertainment and advocacy. 

This year’s Hash Bash featured speakers who focused on ongoing advocacy regarding federal decriminalization and legalization.

Michiganders teamed with the UM Students for Sensible Drug Policy to organize the event on the Diag. 

They strove to raise awareness about the benefits of pot and the concerns over those still serving prison sentences for weed, such as Danny Trevino who was sentenced to sixteen years in prison after being accused of breaking marijuana laws.

Richard Clement, one of the speakers who is a Detroit activist advocating for legalization of marijuana, encouraged Hash Bash attendees to contact their federal representatives in order to free Trevino and advocate for freeing all federal pot prisoners. 

The president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Allison Bohn, is sometimes asked why Hash Bash is still an ongoing event now that marijuana is legalized. Bohn pointed to some of the Hash Bash speakers’ main points: that even though marijuana is freely accessible to purchase now, there are still people whose lives are affected by criminal records due to weed, or who are even still incarcerated due to it. 

The Washtenaw County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney issued a policy directive in 2021 agreeing with these statements, pointing out that although Black and white Americans use marijuana equally, Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana nationally, and 4.7 times more likely to be arrested in Washtenaw County than white people. 

Michigan Proposal 1, Marijuana Legalization Initiative was approved in 2018 and legalized marijuana. It is thought to have taken a great step toward addressing the harms brought about by marijuana criminalization, however, it has been criticized for creating some areas of vagueness and doesn’t address all areas of potential harm.

For example, there are still criminal penalties for possessing certain amounts of weed, and it does not expunge the records of people who were convicted prior to cannabis’s legalization. This can severely affect or even ruin these people’s lives and it disproportionately affects Black people and people of color.

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office states it does not believe that it is acceptable to criminalize the use or possession of  marijuana, regardless of how much marijuana was found at the time of the incident. 

Hash Bash 2023 continued to bring awareness to ongoing areas of marijuana advocacy. 

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