Prime GOP Texas Lawmaker Reiterates Assist For Marijuana Reform As He Previews 2023 Priorities

A high Republican Texas lawmaker says that he’ll work to enact prison justice reform within the 2023 session, and he once more expressed help for reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

Home Speaker Dade Phelan (R) talked about his legislative priorities throughout an interview on the Texas Tribune Competition on Friday, saying that “we’re over-incarcerated in Texas” and noting that he backs lowering marijuana penalties.

“I don’t know marijuana from oregano. It’s probably not my factor,” Phelan mentioned, in line with San Antonio Report. However reducing penalties for easy possession, as can be achieved below laws he’s beforehand cosponsored, remains to be on the desk, the outlet reported.

The speaker has been making the oregano remark for greater than a yr, so it’s not clear when he’ll be capable of distinguish the herbs, however he did point out that he’s supportive of hashish reform, which the legislature might take up once more through the subsequent session that begins in January.

Talking at a Texas Younger Republicans occasion final yr, Phelan mentioned, “I perceive the problem” regardless of his basic lack of familiarity with the marijuana plant.

The speaker additionally beforehand touted the truth that he voted for a restricted medical hashish legalization invoice throughout his freshman yr within the legislature, and he mentioned that his help for the reform is partly based mostly on the truth that he has a “sister with extreme epilepsy, and small quantities of CBD oil makes a giant distinction in folks’s lives.”

Phelan additionally famous that he was a “joint creator—no pun meant” of hashish decriminalization laws prior to now.

“I used to be ready to return house and clarify it, and it wasn’t a giant deal,” he mentioned. “To me, it’s an inexpensive prison justice reform problem.”

Jax James, government director for Texas NORML, cheered the speaker’s newest feedback.

“Decreasing the penalties for private possession of marijuana has lengthy been an essential problem to Texas voters,” she instructed Marijuana Second. “It can be crucial that the speaker of the Home has reaffirmed his help for addressing the tough penalties round minor marijuana possession. Now greater than ever, it is very important reprioritize legislation enforcement’s time.”

Whereas Texas has seen extra modest hashish reforms enacted lately, together with the growth of the state’s medical marijuana program, the conservative legislature has but to meaningfully advance broad reform.

Advocates additionally stay upset that lawmakers have up to now been unable to move different incremental hashish payments—comparable to a decriminalization proposal that has superior in a single chamber of the legislature solely to stall within the different.

The Home authorized a hashish decriminalization invoice in 2019, but it surely didn’t advance within the Senate that session.

Marijuana Second is monitoring greater than 1,500 hashish, psychedelics and drug coverage payments in state legislatures and Congress this yr. Patreon supporters pledging not less than $25/month get entry to our interactive maps, charts and listening to calendar so that they don’t miss any developments.

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In response to a ballot launched final month, a majority of Texas voters help legalizing marijuana for medical and leisure use.

Texas Republicans is likely to be on the fence on legalization total, however the state’s GOP social gathering formalized its opposition to ending prohibition once more with the adoption of a coverage plank as a part of its 2022 platform.

Two modest reforms that had been supported within the platform, nonetheless, had been the federal rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to II and lowering laws on hemp.

Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate with a longstanding report of supporting drug coverage reform within the Lone Star state and in Congress, was fast to criticize the GOP group over its embrace of restrictive social insurance policies, together with hashish criminalization.

Even Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appeared to embrace easy decriminalization in January, saying “jail and jail is a spot for harmful criminals who could hurt others, and small possession of marijuana shouldn’t be the kind of violation that we wish to stockpile jails with.”

However he misstated current coverage, suggesting that the legislature already made easy marijuana possession a category C misdemeanor with out the specter of jail time. Actually, the legislation nonetheless thought-about possession of as much as two ounces a category B misdemeanor that carries a punishment of as much as 180 days in jail and a most $2,000 superb.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller argued in favor of additional increasing medical hashish entry in an op-ed in July, saying that “hashish prohibition got here from a spot of concern, not from medical science or the evaluation of social hurt.” His Democratic opponent, Susan Hays, has explicitly referred to as for adult-use marijuana legalization.

On the native stage, marijuana reform has moved quickly as Texas activists have labored to enact reform in jurisdictions throughout the state. In Could, for instance, Austin voters authorized marijuana decriminalization overwhelmingly.

Voters in 5 extra Texas cities will see hashish decriminalization measures on their November ballots.

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The submit Prime GOP Texas Lawmaker Reiterates Assist For Marijuana Reform As He Previews 2023 Priorities appeared first on Marijuana Second.

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