“A top Republican Texas lawmaker says that he will work to enact criminal justice reform in the 2023 session, and he again expressed support for lowering penalties for marijuana possession.”
SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
by Kyle Jaeger
A top Republican Texas lawmaker says that he will work to enact criminal justice reform in the 2023 session, and he again expressed support for lowering penalties for marijuana possession.
House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) talked about his legislative priorities during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival on Friday, saying that “we are over-incarcerated in Texas” and noting that he backs reducing marijuana penalties.
“I don’t know marijuana from oregano. It’s not really my thing,” Phelan said, according to San Antonio Report. But lowering penalties for simple possession, as would be accomplished under legislation he’s previously cosponsored, is still on the table, the outlet reported.
The speaker has been making the oregano comment for more than a year, so it’s not clear when he will be able to distinguish the herbs, but he did indicate that he’s supportive of cannabis reform, which the legislature could take up again during the next session that starts in January.
“I’m very comfortable with reducing the penalties for marijuana,” the speaker said, according to an audio clip of the event obtained by Marijuana Moment.
Speaking at a Texas Young Republicans event last year, Phelan said, “I understand the issue” despite his general lack of familiarity with the marijuana plant.
The speaker also previously touted the fact that he voted for a limited medical cannabis legalization bill during his freshman year in the legislature, and he said that his support for the reform is partly based on the fact that he has a “sister with severe epilepsy, and small amounts of CBD oil makes a big difference in people’s lives.”