Austin marijuana march to put pressure on lawmakers
For nearly a decade, thousands of Texans have sought to make it clear to state legislators that reforming marijuana laws for the better is inevitable and they have done this by marching on the state capitol building in Austin. With a form of cannabis now legal in Texas and lawmakers admitting it has medicinal value, activists are hoping to seize the moment during an important election year.
In it’s 9th year now, the Texas Marijuana March has previously been held as part of the world-wide Global Marijuana March. Given that there are now seven marches happening across Texas during that time on Saturday, May 7, this event now falls on the following Saturday so that all Texans have the opportunity to come together and make a show of solidarity and unity on an issue which most Texans are in support of.
Over the past decade, an average of 72,000 people have been arrested each year in Texas for marijuana offenses. Combine this with the 76 percent of Texans who support some form of marijuana law reform and everything points to the time being right for change. A record 11 bills pertaining to cannabis were introduced during the 2015 legislative session, and one of them, a CBD medical bill, was passed into law. As Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill however, he took the extra step of saying that marijuana laws would not change while he is in office.
The non-profit which organizes the march each year, Texas NORML, is expecting a large and professional presence.
Jax Finkel, who is the group’s executive director, says that such a presence is a must because “It is a reminder that we are out there voting, being civicly engaged, and preparing for the 2017 legislative session.”
She adds, “We use the march and rally as a tool to bring those who believe in cannabis law reform together, to bring attention to the issue through the media, and to have quality speakers speaking to the masses about this important topic. This is also an opportunity for Texans to exercise our first amendment rights of freedom of speech and redress of our grievances with the government of Texas.”
Finkel also believes it’s important that a show of support along with putting pressure on legislators is necessary since Texans do not have the power of ballot initiate as other states do. So far, in states that have legalized marijuana and several who have medical programs, reform has come through collecting signatures and putting the issue on the ballot for citizens to vote on. In Texas, all legislation must go through the state legislature.
Those involved in the march will meet at Austin City Hall at noon and begin at 12:40 pm on Saturday, May 14. The group will march up Congress and to the capitol’s south steps where a rally will be held at 1:15 pm.
Leading the march will be a group of patients with a banner recognizing their cause for medical cannabis. There will also be a veterans banner as well and veterans are encouraged to wear hats, shirts or ribbons identifying their military service and dedication.
Speakers at the rally include representatives from the Austin NAACP, Progress Texas, Texas NORML, El Paso NORML, RGV NORML, NORML Corpus Christi, and the Libertarian Party of Texas.
Attendees are encouraged to bring umbrellas for both shade and to protect against any possible rain. They’re also encouraged to bring signs, though some signs will be available. Organizers are also encouraging anyone on social media posting about the event to use the hashtag #TMM2016
An after-social event will be held at Sidewinders.
For more information about this event, click here.