Thousands of protesters, students and curiosity seekers are expected to gather in the Diag on Saturday for the 26th annual Hash Bash.
One of Ann Arbor's most notorious events, Hash Bash festivities are scheduled to run from "high" noon until 1 p.m. on the Diag before proceeding to a block party on Monroe Street in front of Dominick's.
The rally is expected to easily exceed the 5,000 participants who attended last year's event, according to Sgt. Larry Jerue of the Ann Arbor Police Department.
"The event has grown a considerable amount over the last 10 years, when the only people who showed up were kids skipping school," Jerue said.
"With a national championship event for women's gymnastics being held and the Hash Bash event being held on a nice day there could be a potential for a few problems," Jerue continued. "We will beef up the number of people patrolling the surrounding area so we are prepared."
A Department of Public Safety officer who wished to remain anonymous said more than 60 officers will be looking for illegal activities during the event and that all of the buildings bordering the Diag will be locked.
"We will have as many officers as we usually have patrolling the area on a normal football Saturday," the officer said.
DPS officials as well as Michigan State Police officers and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department will be policing the Diag area before, during and after speeches.
"If you're caught either possessing or using marijuana on University property, you will be punished according to state law," the officer said.
State laws mandate that the maximum penalty for using marijuana is a $1,000 fine and/or one year in prison. The penalty for possessing marijuana is $100 and/or 90 days in prison.
Ann Arbor police also will patrol areas off campus. According to Ann Arbor ordinances, possession and use of marijuana is punishable by a $25 ticket.
Organizer Adam Brooke said that Hash Bash is more than an excuse to smoke pot once a year.
"Its an opportunity to piss off the University. This is like Christmas to me," Brooke said. "All my friends come down, and we are going to have one hell of a good time. We think people should be able to have fun there, anyway they like. It's amazing how many people will show up. It has become a very strong political movement."
Hash Bash will be held on the Diag thanks to the University student organization Help Eliminate Marijuana Prohibition, or Hemp A2, which obtained the necessary cleaning permit from the University.
Ed Tayter, Hemp A2 member and LSA senior, said the event faced opposition this year.
"In the recent past the University has been pretty cool with the permits, but this year they tried to raise the cleaning bill to $3,000, which was, in my opinion, a sorry attempt to stop Hash Bash from happening," Tayter said. "Luckily we compromised and get to pay a reduced fee of $1,200 cleaning deposit and $200 electric fee."
Brooke said he does not advocate the use of marijuana to anyone who attends the event.
"We're not going to tell the people who attend to smoke pot not because it's illegal, but because the penalties are so stupid it's not worth it," Brooke said. "The police are going to try and harass, but I am going to do what I do every year and dare them to arrest me. I am not scared of those jerks."
Brooke said the event's attendance is usually heavily affected by the weather.
"We once had in excess of 10,000 people in the past, but the attendance depends on the weather and I heard it is supposed to be 70 degrees out," he said. "That is good news for the demonstration. I wouldn't be surprised if we reached 10-15,000 people this year."