Texas: Advocates gather to promote change in marijuana laws
by Rachel Meador, Daily Texan Staff
High above the Pecan Street Festival, Texans for the legalization of marijuana showed their support Saturday night at the Third Annual Sixth Street Smokeout and 2008 Global Marijuana Music Awards at Momo’s.
The Texas branch of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, hosted the event with proceeds funding efforts to decriminalize recreational marijuana use by responsible adults. The diverse lineup ranged from spoken poetry to swing music, country to reggae, but all advocated legal change.
The Broken Poetz drove their expertly spray-painted van five hours from McAllen to contribute their hip-hop-psychedelic sound to the lineup. The group addresses the problems surrounding current marijuana laws in their original songs. “Mr. Weedy” and “Two-Time Offender” received cheers of support at the smokeout.
“Too many people are in jail right now just for marijuana charges,” said Jason Salas, member of The Broken Poetz. “We want to help expose what’s really going on. It’s real messed up when an adult can’t possess just for personal use.”
The patio overlooking the Austin skyline was lined with information booths, artists selling blown glass pieces and miscellaneous pro-pot regalia while roaming advocates dispensed free gear and information to attendees. NORML members and vendors were eager to answer questions and shed some light on marijuana misconceptions.
“Even if we can just start by legalizing hemp, it will be so important to our economy,” said Sheri Pogue, local distributor of 420 Energy Drinks and 10-year member of NORML. “In colonial times, they did their taxes on hemp. It was fundamental to the foundation of our country, and it has the potential and versatility to help us immensely now.”
Pogue said she joined the organization when she saw her mother suffer and deteriorate from cancer. The chemo and prescriptions offered no relief. The only time her mother was not in pain was when she smoked.
“People need to stand up for our rights now and stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves,” Pogue said. “There isn’t one person I know who hasn’t had a loved one affected by cancer, hepatitis, AIDS or depression. We need to stand up for their rights as human beings. It could be one of us one day.”
420 Energy Drinks, “the only energy drink with a universal purpose,” donates a portion of the proceeds from every can to organizations to help defend non-violent marijuana offenses in court. Pogue decided to take on selling the hempseed-based product, available locally at The Smoking Caterpillar and Momo’s, as a way to educate and serve the community.
“So much would be possible with the legalization of hemp and marijuana,” Pogue said. “God put it on this earth for us to use, not to destroy or criminalize but to benefit the world.”