Near a busy North Side intersection, dozens of San Antonians gathered Saturday afternoon to demonstrate in favor of the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana use in Texas.
“As soon as we got out and we had flyers on the ground, we already had car honks going,” said Shawna Simpson, 28, who set up the event with her brother Jeremy Simpson, 30.
The siblings are two of four organizers in the San Antonio area who are part of Cannabis Open Carry Walks, a statewide movement. Other walks were held Saturday in Dallas and Channelview near Houston.
According to their Facebook page, Open Carry Walks began in late 2017 and will continue throughout 2018 and into 2019 with the aim of having the next Texas Legislature, which convenes in 2019, consider legislation to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use.
Paul Espinoza, 50, who is recovering from a serious motor vehicle wreck in 2011, said he came out to promote marijuana use as a better alternative to prescription pain pills.
“I’ve been smoking for about two years now. The pills the doctor had me on made me moody, suicidal,” Espinoza said. “I’m still feeling side effects but my anxiety is not as it used to be.”
For about four hours near the intersection of West Rector and San Pedro Avenue, on the sidewalk bordering the North Star Mall parking lot, the activists waved flags and banners and carried signs that read “Legalize” and “Free The Weed.”
Jeremy Simpson said the group uses Facebook and other social media to help promote and organize the walks. He added that previous demonstrations in Houston and Dallas were streamed live on Facebook, attracting 30,000 viewers.
“We had nearly 150 people show up to today’s event,” Shawna Simpson said, throughout the afternoon. Texas can expect to see 20 other walks in the coming weeks in other cities, she said. Another one will be held in San Antonio next month; details will be announced later.
“People of all backgrounds come to these walks. We’ve had cancer patients … and people who’ve just gone through a lot,” Shawna Simpson said. “It’s eye-opening.”
Manuel Martinez, 23, participated in the event Saturday after seeing the group’s post about it on Facebook and said he would be back to continue supporting the efforts to legalize marijuana.
“Marijuana really helped with my depression when my little brother died,” Martinez said. “Now that I know (about the walks), I’m gonna start coming.”