Dem lawmaker calls for legalized marijuana in all 50 states

Dem lawmaker calls for legalized marijuana in all 50 states
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Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanThree scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi MORE (D-Ohio) is calling for marijuana to be legalized in all 50 states. 

"As co-chair of the House Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, I've been hesitant to support legalizing marijuana in the past," Ryan wrote in an op-ed for CNN on Friday. "But 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."

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Ryan said he believes "no person should be sentenced to a lifetime of hardship because of a marijuana arrest," arguing it is both "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," he continued. "Marijuana should be legal in all 50 states."

To defend his stance, Ryan pointed to studies that have shown legalizing marijuana could save "$7.7 billion in averted enforcement costs and add $6 billion in additional tax revenue."

He said Congress can pass the Marijuana Justice Act, which would would remove marijuana's designation as a Schedule I drug, thereby eliminating all criminal penalties for individuals who distribute marijuana. 

"The War on Drugs failed the American people," Ryan concluded. "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."

Ryan's call for legalizing marijuana nationwide comes as more states are easing their laws. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 29.

Michigan and Oklahoma will be voting on marijuana initiatives this November. Oklahoma residents voted to legalize medicinal marijuana in June.