May 6, 2011

“MASEL WAS THE LONGTIME ORGANIZER OF WEEDSTOCK, an annual celebration of marijuana and the call to legalize it. It was held in different counties and locations, often attracting the attention of local law enforcement. The Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival outside the Capitol drew criticism from Attorney General Don Hanaway in 1990. Masel challenged Hanaway to a chess match, saying it would prove that past marijuana use hadn’t hurt his brain. Masel said he would even pay $5,000 if he lost any one of the four games in the match. He also said that he would stop smoking marijuana, which he said he has done ‘almost every day’ for 21 years, if he lost the match. Hanaway refused, saying, ‘Some things aren’t funny, and drug abuse is one of them.’” From the Milwaukee State Journal obituary for the great Madison, Wisconsin activist Ben Masel, who died last Saturday of lung cancer at the age of 56.

You can read the posts at my blog that are tagged with his name here, including this one from March 24, with video of him in the state capitol rotunda conducting “a test of the emergency free speech system.”