Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySenate Republicans urgently need to embrace criminal justice reform Overnight Health Care: Senators urge vote on delaying health insurance tax | Joe Kennedy III 'hopeful' he can back 'Medicare for all' bill | Latest Ebola outbreak becomes world's 2nd-worst Joe Kennedy III 'hopeful' he can support revised 'Medicare for all' bill next year MORE III (D-Mass.) is urging the U.S. to legalize marijuana at the federal level, a call that comes on the same day that Massachusetts opened its first recreational marijuana stores. 

Kennedy in an essay for Stat admits that he's been skeptical about relaxing regulations surrounding marijuana because of his work with "mental health and addiction communities."

But Kennedy notes that he's heard from many other people about the positive effects that marijuana can have and said that has changed his perspective. 

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"I’ve had countless conversations with people on both sides," Kennedy writes. "One thing is clear to me: Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken, benefiting neither the elderly man suffering from cancer whom marijuana may help nor the young woman prone to substance use disorder whom it may harm."

"This needs to change," he continues. "Given the rapid pace of state-level legalization and liberalization, I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines. To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level."

Kennedy goes on to argue that marijuana's federal prohibition has led to failures in areas such as the nation's criminal justice and health care systems. 

For example, he argues that the U.S. lags behind other nations in regards to research that can ensure marijuana use meets health standards outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

"Legalization is not a cure-all," he concludes. "Risks remain and regulatory vigilance is required. Criminal justice inequities will persist until adequate state-level reforms are sought nationwide. But legalization would guide states choosing to move forward with strong and clear national standards meant to ensure that all Americans are protected fully and equally."

Kennedy's essay comes as more states ease laws about marijuana use, and as Americans, according to polls, become more open to legalizing the drug for medical and recreational use. 

Michigan became the 10th state earlier this month to pass a bill allowing adults over 21 to legally use marijuana for recreational purposes.