The United States witnessed far more marijuana arrests than for all violent crimes combined in 2016, the year when US President Donald Trump was elected, a US Democrat lawmaker said, citing an old Washington Post article.
Nationally, marijuana arrests are also among other low-level drug offenses, keeping about one in four Americans behind bars, Tim Ryan, who is Ohio’s Representative for its 13th Congressional District, wrote in his CNN Op-Ed, citing a report from the Brennan Center for Justice.
African-Americans are also four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Americans, Ran said, citing an ACLU report.
These are all reasons why he is calling for the legalization of marijuana in all of the 50 US states.
“I have seen this firsthand in my state and in my district,” he wrote. “According to the Sentencing Project, Ohio has the 15th highest incarceration rate in the United States.”
This means that more than 70,000 Ohioans are behind bars, he said.
Ryan, who is also the co-chair of the House Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, saw firsthand the “irreparable” damage caused by marijuana arrests.
“I’ve been hesitant to support legalizing marijuana in the past.”
But now, “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.”
“Marijuana should be legal in all 50 states.”
The lawmaker said changes can happen if Congress passes the Marijuana Justice Act.
“This legislation would remove marijuana’s designation as a Schedule I drug — those classified as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” he said.
The legislation would also “eliminate all criminal penalties for an individual who imports, exports, manufactures, distributes, or processes with intent to distribute marijuana.”
He said endorsing the bill would create a $500 million community reinvestment fund to provide job training for the nascent legal cannabis industry.