Hash Bash is an annual event held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the first Saturday of April at high noon on the University of Michigan Diag. A collection of speeches, live music, street vending and occasional civil disobedience are centered on the goal of reforming federal, state, and local marijuana laws. The first Hash Bash was held on Saturday, April 1 1972 in response to the March 9th 1972 decision by Michigan Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the law used to convict cultural activist John Sinclair for possession of two marijuana joints. This action left the State of Michigan without a law prohibiting the use of marijuana until after the weekend of April 1 1972. Chef Ra was a fixture of the Hash Bash for 19 consecutive years before his death in late 2006.
Ann Arbor has very lenient laws regarding the possession of marijuana – a $25 fine first $50 second $100 third (and subsequent) offense—and is a simple civil infraction rather than a criminal offense, such as misdemeanor or felony (see Marijuana laws in Ann Arbor, Michigan). Even so, the campus of the University of Michigan sits upon state property, and so anyone caught with marijuana on any campus location is subject to the more strict state marijuana laws. In addition, since state law takes precedence over municipal law, many people are prosecuted under state law regardless of where in Ann Arbor they are located. There is a separate but heavily related event following Hash Bash just off campus known as the Monroe Street Fair, where there is usually a live show accompanying the many street vendors selling extravagant bongs and other paraphernalia, along with a Michigan NORML booth.
The second annual Hash Bash, in 1973, attracted approximately 3,000 participants. That year, state representative Perry Bullard, a proponent of marijuana legalization, attended and smoked marijuana, an act which later earned him criticism from political opponents.
Hash Bash participants did not encounter significant police interference until the seventh annual event, in 1978, when local police booked, cited, photographed, and released those participants alleged to be using illegal substances.
The 2009 Hash Bash on April 4 celebrated Medical Marijuana's victory in Michigan and was the largest gathering that the event has seen in years, with an estimated 1600 participants – an increased turnout which the Michigan Daily attributed to the "wider acceptance of recreational drug use both on campus and across the country."