Marijuana advocates have been working toward legalization in Michigan since the first Hash Bash in 1972.
This year, nearly 10,000 people assembled for the 45th Hash Bash in Ann Arbor to support the legalization of marijuana
University of Michigan freshman Sydney Baranski attended the April 1 event.
“Hash Bash is like a magical day where, for whatever reason, all uses of marijuana seem to be legal,” Baranski said. “People smoke, sell and listen to the speakers they have, talk about how we should legalize marijuana.”
Hash Bash is held on the first Saturday of April at the University of Michigan Diag. The goal of the event is to reform federal, state and local marijuana laws.
According to federal law, marijuana use and possession is illegal. The law in Michigan also makes usage illegal, however, Michigan state law allows approved patients to use marijuana medicinally and local laws vary.
MI Legalize, a nonprofit organization in East Lansing, is still trying to achieve its goal of marijuana legalization in Michigan, despite their petition being turned down in 2016.
The organization is working on legalization in 2018.
According to MI Legalize, the organization submitted more than 350,000 signatures in June, 2016, to allow voters to decide whether marijuana should be legalized.
“In a legally questionable move by Michigan’s Bureau of Elections, roughly half of the signatures submitted were not counted,” its website reads. “The right to vote for marijuana in 2016 was stolen from Michiganders.”
“Personally, I do not smoke, but I have many friends and close family members who do,” Baranski said.
She said marijuana should be legalized.
“There are a lot of therapeutic uses from it,” she said. “Marijuana can be used safely and in moderation.”
Cara Ludlow, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs specialist at Olin Health Center, said there are also many risks.
“The United States Food and Drug Administration has not approved the marijuana plant as medicine and it does not recognize it as a medication,” said Ludlow. “There is so much that we don’t know about this plant and we have not figured out yet if the health benefits of using marijuana outweigh the health risks.”
“The U.S.has not conducted enough large-scale research or clinical trials on the marijuana plant as a whole, to determine if the benefits of the whole plant use outweigh the risks,” Ludlow said.
She said that the risks include short-term effects such as changes in mood or impaired functioning. Risks also include long-term effects such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.