Police estimated that more than 1,500 people marched through the streets of downtown Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon calling for state lawmakers to legalize the use of marijuana for all purposes.
But one speaker told the crowd that they have tried every method that he knows of to get that point across and still state lawmakers lag behind the will of the people on this issue.
Most people in Texas favor marijuana legalization, said David Sloan, spokesman for DFWNORML, the organization that sponsors the annual Fort Worth march and rally calling for marijuana legalization.
But state lawmakers know if they legalize marijuana on their own, they will face a backlash from a small and vocal conservative minority that wishes to maintain the laws the way they are, Sloan said.
“The states that have referendums on this issue are the states where the marijuana issue has no longer been an issue,” Sloan said. “The lawmakers don’t want to decide this issue. We’ve tried everything. We’ve signed petitions, brought forward four bills, rallied in Austin, packed the legislature with people advocating for legalization, and nothing’s worked.”
To a large round of applause, Sloan said it’s now time to vote for candidates who will let the people participate in a state ballot initiative on the marijuana question.
Because “lawmakers in Texas will put this off for as long as they can,” Sloan said.
Beth Jones, 33, of Cleburne said she came with her best friend to wear matching marijuana plant dresses and show their support for marijuana legalization.
People chanting “Free the Weed” and holding signs that said “Health care reform” stopped traffic as they marched through downtown. People honked their horns in support when they passed the signs that said “Honk if you use Cannabis.”
The lone dissenting voice heard during the march was from Ricky Kroening, who held a bullhorn at the rear of the procession.
Kroening said he had smoked marijuana in the past, not to cure his ills but to get high. Two others stood with him. And as Kroening spoke through his bullhorn during the rally at the Tarrant County Courthouse , at 100 E. Weatherford, a detail of police officers and sheriff’s deputies encircled him with their bicycles to protect him.
“We’re here because we were once in the same position as they were,” Kroening said, pointing at the crowd. “We are against getting high.”