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Tyler marijuana rally draws crowd despite rain

Rally goers in Tyler who braved the weather to attend the event which was moved indoors at the last minute to Where's Rufus. Photo by Joel Gardner
Rally goers in Tyler who braved the weather to attend the event which was moved indoors at the last minute to Where’s Rufus. Photo by Joel Gardner

Despite the rainy cold weather, a marijuana reform rally still drew a crowd in Tyler today.

Around 100 people showed up to the event which had to be moved inside at the last minute due to weather conditions. With standing room only, the crowd listened to several speakers talk about the need to change marijuana laws in Texas.

The organizer, Joel Gardner, stated “even with the rain, we had a great turnout. A lot of people are very passionate about this issue. People want change. There’s all of the medical benefits plus the aspect of ruining people’s lives over a plant that shouldn’t be illegal in the first place.”

An estimated 72,000 Texans were arrested in 2012 for possession of marijuana.

A bill submitted by Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, would decrease the penalty for possession of marijuana to a $100 fine misdemeanor for all amounts under an ounce. Another bill submitted by Rep. David Simpson, a Republican from Longview completely strikes marijuana from all Texas legislation, effectively decriminalizing possession of the plant by taking away all penalties for it.

Other speakers included former Agriculture Commissioner candidate Rocky Palmquist, who stressed the need to legalize both marijuana and hemp.

“Hemp is the most sustainable crop in the world. We can buy hemp oil, we can buy hemp clothing, but we can’t grow it,” he says. Adding, “Now what sense does that make? We are losing millions in economic growth every year. It’s a crying shame when a state like Kentucky has more initiative than we do. We are Texans, we are innovators, and there’s no reason for us not to be a leader in hemp production.”

Some referred to Palmquist’s speech as a “barn-burner” saying that it pumped up an already enthusiastic crowd.

So far, two bills have been introduced into the legislative session this year which would legalize hemp for Texas farmers.

Jared Cates, the executive director of Nacogdoches NORML, talked about need for medical marijuana, showing just how personal the matter is by talking about his mother who suffered from breast cancer.

Cates stated, “knowing that just a couple states away, there was a safer, natural, effective cannabis based treatment that could have rejuvenated my mother while eradicating the cancer really was the final straw. I cannot stand by and watch my loved one suffer through a terrible treatment because our elected representatives refuse to recognize the medicinal efficacy of cannabis.”

Several bills have been filed pertaining to medical marijuana, and a whole plant bill is expected to be introduced next week.

Also speaking at the rally was Dustin Jones, who is the treasurer for Nacogdoches NORML. He urged people to contact their representatives about the current bills in the legislature.

Gardner has been encouraging people all around the state to hold similar rallies in their own city.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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