When U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, announced that, “marijuana should be legal in all 50 states,” he became one of the few congressional members to openly endorse the idea.
Ryan, a Democrat, announced his support for nationwide legalization in an op-ed for CNN.
“We have ignored the social and economic toll of our marijuana laws for too long,” Ryan said. “I believe no person should be sentenced to a lifetime of hardship because of a marijuana arrest. It is morally wrong, economically nonsensical, and an unnecessary strain on our already strained law enforcement officials. Even more unjust is that the burden of these low-level drug charges fall on minority communities, hindering their God-given right to thrive and build a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
Ryan said he was cosponsoring a bill that would remove marijuana from the DEA’s Schedule I drug classification.
Ryan mentioned racial disparities in arrest rates among people of color for low-level marijuana as another reason for legalization.
“I have seen this firsthand in my state and in my district. According to the Sentencing Project, Ohio has the 15th highest incarceration rate in the United States. This translates to over 70,000 Ohioans behind bars. And, nationally, about one in four prisoners are behind bars for low-level drug offenses. When they finally leave prison — after years removed from employment, education and family, their chances of having a productive life are slim.”
As co-chair of the House Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, Ryan said he was hesitant in the past to support legalization, but after meeting with people whose lives had been irreparably harmed by a marijuana arrests, he realized that the social and economic injustices of the country’s marijuana policy were too big to ignore.
He called the war on drugs a failure and said the Marijuana Justice Act should be adopted.
“It is time for us to take the necessary steps to right our nation’s wrongs. We cannot afford to leave people behind and money on the table. If we are truly a nation that believes in second chances, our federal marijuana laws must change. America is speaking. Congress must act.”