Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) published an op-ed Tuesday urging federal lawmakers to legalize marijuana nationwide on the same day the first recreational marijuana shops in Massachusetts opened their doors to the public.
Kennedy, writing in an essay for Stat, said current federal laws on marijuana are “badly broken,” and advocated for the legalization of pot “at the federal level.”
“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,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote.
“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, who said he was reluctant at first to embrace legalization of the drug “because of his work with mental health and addiction communities,” argued that prohibition of the drug at the federal level led to failures in the country’s health care and criminal justice systems.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s op-ed comes as more states are legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use. Growing public sentiment in favor of the drug has also caused the legal cannabis market to soar to record highs.
The legal marijuana market was valued at $7 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow to more than $150 billion by 2025.