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Dec. 10, 1971 - John Sinclair Freedom Rally

This Day in Cannabis History:

It was on this day in 1971 that activists in Ann Arbor, Michigan threw a huge, star-studded concert to raise awareness for the plight of prominent poet, pot activist, and White Panther John Sinclair. Sinclair, who had been busted for possession a few years earlier, was sentenced to a shocking ten years in prison for just two joints.

Outraged by this disproportionately draconian penalty (no doubt intended to make an example of Sinclair), radical activist organization the Youth International Party (or Yippies) helped organize the massive event on Sinclair’s behalf at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. Known as the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally,” it included Yippies Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, marijuana minstrel David Peel, and future High Times founder Tom Forcade, as well as Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg, NORML founder Keith Stroup, and many others.

It also featured performances by top musical acts like Bob Seger, Stevie Wonder, and most impressively, former Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, who even wrote a song for the occasion titled simply "John Sinclair." A documentary film of the event, named Ten For Two after the movement’s rallying cry, was released the following year.

Just three days after the rally, Michigan’s Supreme Court ordered Sinclair’s release on bond pending appeal after serving only 2.5 years of his sentence.

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