Area residents have an opportunity to march for cannabis legalization May 19th as part of a protest put on by activist Garrett Mullins.
Mullins, with Cannabis Open Carry Walks, said the protest in Brownwood is part of a grassroots, state-wide movement raising awareness for legalizing recreational cannabis use and inspire local legislators to consider the issue during the 2019 legislative session.
“We’re trying to promote legalization in Texas by 2019,” Mullins said. “We’re trying to get people to vote the right people into office. We can’t change the laws as a people unless legislators put it forward.”
According to the Cannabis Open Carry Walks Facebook page, a typical COCW walk has supporters standing on street corners holding signs and passing out literature condemning the practice of cannabis prohibition. The COCW urges participants to follow all laws and not ingest marijuana during the event.
So far, walks have taken place in every major metropolitan area in Texas and Mullins said the focus is now less densely populated municipalities.
“The cities are already pro marijuana,” Mullins said. “What I’m trying to do is go around on my motorcycle and hitting the smaller towns. Now, we’re trying to spread the roots from bigger cities and try to get to the smaller towns.
“The smaller towns are the real people who represent Texas. Those are the guys that have all of the real money. That is where the oil fields are, the cattle ranches. It’s where all of the money is coming from, small towns.”
Mullins added, so far, the overall reception has been positive, but some only express their enthusiasm behind closed doors.
“They don’t want to say ‘Hey, I’m for it,’ because they think the people around them will look down upon them, as will their co-workers, their families,” Mullins said. “It is against the law here in Texas. I call those people closet smokers, but they have to stand up and speak out. If they do not speak up for what they want, because they’re scared, then the laws will never change.”
Mullins has been a felon since his 2016 arrest in Wichita Falls for money laundering and marijuana possession. He believes his actions were harmless and marijuana laws adversely affect many Americans.
“From a personal standpoint, being a felon for marijuana is ridiculous … I was not doing anything wrong other than have a jar of peanut butter marijuana edibles,” Mullins said. “It really puts a hurt on people like myself because now we’re looked down upon and can’t even get jobs. There is nothing that is holding us back but this big F-word, felon.”
Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols said he has spoken with Mullins and advised him the BPD’s only political position is to enforce the law.
“It’s nice when people want to include us in the conversation upfront,” Nichols said. “We have a conversation and say ‘Here are the rules, here are the laws. We have a panhandlers solicitation ordinance so you can’t be soliciting money or anything of value from the roadways and certain intersections. Be careful out there.’ I don’t think it’s a protest as much as it’s going out and stating a case.”
One issue Nichols said he assisted Mullins with is a push to for local law enforcement to issue a citation for certain marijuana offenses instead of jailing an offender. However, Nichols said he only pointed Mullins and the BPD only enforces the laws and does not take positions regarding the law.
“It’s not an issue for us. Until the state law changes, we will continue to enforce the issue as we do,” Nichols said. “It’s a misdemeanor. He is trying to push for cite and release and the law does allow for cite and release in certain circumstances. I’m trying to guide him toward the proper authorities to help him with that.”
For more information regarding the May 19th protest visit the Cannabis Open Carry Walk Facebook page.