The Texas Marijuana March

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The Global Marijuana March is an annual, worldwide, marijuana legalization protest the first Saturday of May, held in hundreds of cities every year with hundreds of thousands of activists participating globally.

Austin was one of 25 other cities around the globe participating in the inaugural Global Marijuana March, on Saturday, May 1, 1999, and the following year on May 6th, 2000, organizers of Austin’s “Millennium Marijuana March” estimated that two thousand people were in attendance. In 2002 the march in Austin was called “Liberation Day”, but unfortunately the event went on hiatus for a few years after the 2003 March.

Then, in 2008 the march in Austin came back with renewed energy as the Texas Cannabis Crusade, which included an all day festival at Zilker Park, and had a solid three year run. The Cannabis Crusade brought in musical acts from around the country, and garnered media attention from several outlets in Austin.

In 2011 with an increased focus on political activism, and a new name, the Texas Marijuana March brought several nationally known high profile speakers to Austin including NORML Live Show host/producer & National NORML’s Chapter Outreach Coordinator, Russ Belville, musician & professional sports star, Greta Gaines, and Presidential candidate & former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson.

The Texas Marijuana March in Austin has evolved over the years, and in 2012 Texas NORML will be focusing again on political activism, and also the need for medical marijuana in Texas. Featured speakers for the 2012 Texas Marijuana March will include Waco NORML founder & Candidate for Texas House of Representatives District 56, Clif Deuvall, Sam Houston State University Professor, Dr. Kenneth Hendrickson, and The Austin 420 Executive Editor & Texas NORML Patient Liaison, Vincent Lopez.

On Cinco de Mayo 2012, the Texas Marijuana March will (as in year’s past) begin with a march through the streets of downtown Austin, up to the Capitol’s South Steps. In previous years, the march route has been as short as a few blocks, as in 2011, up to several blocks as in 2000 & 2010, and as long as 2.5 miles from Zilker Park, in 2008-2009.

This year, the march will begin at noon in front of Austin City Hall, with just a single turn to make up Congress Ave. Live music will be played at the Capitol by singer/songwriter, RPD, whose self-styled “cage free country crossover” music will evoke thoughts of the Red Headed Stranger and Rasta blues.

Texas NORML over the years has poured many thousands of dollars into making the Texas Marijuana March happen, and pushing the issue of marijuana legalization into the public eye as often as possible. Texas NORML is a non-profit organization that has always been run by dedicated, and unpaid, volunteers who are committed to seeing an end to cannabis prohibition. So, events like this would not be possible without the grassroots support, membership, and media coverage that Texas NORML has grown over the past 7 years.

In order to see the fight all the way through to victory, there must be continued growth and recruitment of even more activists and stakeholders willing to fight so that the argument for legalization is made as widely as possible in the public sphere; and that it is done with the utmost respect and professionalism. Texas is not easy turf for NORML and other marijuana law reform organizations. MPP has long ago halted their former funding for medical marijuana in Texas, so it is now up to NORML, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, the Texas Hemp Campaign, and the Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care to work on this issue. And progress has been made in terms of getting people in the public mobilized to take action. Although we didn’t see anything substantive come from it, in 2011 we had one of the best years ever for political action on marijuana law reform in Texas, with several thousand emails, letters, and calls made in support of medical marijuana and decriminalization. But if we hope to see any movement in the Texas legislature, we must increase the number of people willing to speak out on it. We must increase, and keep up the pressure on our elected officials, because Texas citizens do not have the option of changing laws through voter ballot initiative.

Instead of just several thousand contacts of legislators, we need to work towards tens or hundreds of thousands, and keep those numbers up every legislative session until the legislature makes the changes we are demanding. We also need to have our members and supporters informed about who in the legislature does or does not support what NORML is working towards. It is imperative that the legislators in Texas who make decisions regarding state laws will be willing to vote yes on medical marijuana, and on marijuana decriminalization or even legalization. It’s the only way we can change laws in this state.

The goal of the Texas Marijuana March is to bring as many people as possible to the Texas Capitol to demand significant change in our marijuana laws, and that means we need everyone who reads this to consider talking to friends & family about the issue.

We need everyone who reads this to seriously consider making a trip to Austin on Saturday, May 5th, 2012, Cinco de Mayo, and take part in the Texas Marijuana March. We need to see many thousands of people on the South Steps of the Capitol calling for legalization. If you are not near Austin, talk to people around you to see if others are interested in carpooling/caravanning to Austin on May 5th, so that the Texas Marijuana March will make the maximum possible impact. If you can’t make it, then you should consider making a donation to, or becoming a member of, Texas NORML or your local NORML chapter. Ask yourself what you can do to help with the cause, and make a commitment to do it.

The Texas Marijuana March on Saturday, May 5th, 2012, at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, needs you there, and so do all of the cannabis consumers in Texas! ~