Posted: April 4, 2010
39th annual Hash Bash acquires an air of legitimacy
Crowd at U-M hails medical marijuana
Police estimated 5,000 people were there, drawn by sunshine as well as enthusiasm for Michigan's 15-month-old law legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"How many of you are patients? Hold up your cards!" shouted Hash Bash emcee Adam Brook, 42, of Royal Oak.
Hundreds held aloft the state cards that show they are patients who can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of the weed.
Openly smoking was Dennis Stoffer, 45, of Port Huron, in a wheelchair since a 2006 motorcycle accident.
"Time to come out and support the cause," said his wife, Becky Stoffer, 53.
Marijuana is much better for her husband than the side effects of the powerful pain pills he once took, she said.
"The only side effect (from marijuana) is him getting the munchies," she said, referring to the drug's tendency to make users hungry.
Some held signs that demanded the drug's full legalization.
"This is the next generation of activists," said speaker Anthony Freed, 32, of Clark Lake -- patting the back of U-M senior Chris Chiles, 21, a chemistry major from Farmington who founded the university's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
At least nine U-M campus police ringed the crowd's perimeter. They made nine arrests at the event for marijuana possession; one for possession of marijuana, heroin and ecstasy, and issued four citations for illegal sale of marijuana, said U-M public safety spokeswoman Diane Brown.
Even if a person had a state card to possess medical marijuana, smoking the drug on campus is illegal -- punishable by up to a year in jail under state law, she said.
Those charged on campus might plead guilty to the lesser crime of marijuana use punishable by a 90-day jail term, Brown said. Still more lenient, however, is the City of Ann Arbor, whose ordinance -- enforced off campus -- is just a $50 fine, she said.
That's why Karl Andrzejewski, 40, of Kalamazoo and his friends were headed for the city's Monroe Street Fair after the Hash Bash.
"It's a lot safer off campus," Andrzejewski said.Contact BILL LAITNER : 586-826-7264 or blaitner @ freepress.com