Marijuana should be legal in all 50 states because of the damage the nation’s aggressive drug laws have done, an Ohio Congressman wrote in an editorial on Friday.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said he used to be hesitant to support legalizing cannabis, but said the number of lives harmed by incarceration for minor drug offenses is too high, and that harm outweighs any concerns.
“When they finally leave prison — after years removed from employment, education and family — their chances of having a productive life are slim,” Ryan wrote of those imprisoned for minor drug crimes in the editorial, published on CNN’s website. “After meeting with countless Ohio families and youth whose lives have been irreparably harmed by a marijuana arrest, I find the social and economic injustices of our marijuana policy too big to ignore. I firmly believe no person should be sentenced to a lifetime of hardship because of a marijuana arrest. It is morally wrong and economically nonsensical. That is why I am calling for an end to marijuana being used as an excuse to lock up our fellow Americans.”
Ryan said with the number of states now legalizing cannabis, it makes sense to him for the country as a whole to consider it.
“You should not be able to legally buy a product in one state, just to be arrested for the very same act in another,” Ryan said.
He pointed to studies that claim nearly $8 billion in savings to law enforcement would be realized from national legalization, and potentially $6 billion in new tax revenue. Ryan also cited a claim that nationwide legalization could create more than 780,000 jobs immediately.
“We need to invest in a country that works for all Americans,” Ryan wrote. We need every citizen working to keep America moving forward. Instead, we are keeping one in five Americans off the economic playing field — the majority of them people of color. “