COLUMBUS, Ohio (CBS Local) – A leading member in the Democratic party is calling for a nationwide legalization of marijuana.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who challenged and nearly defeated Nancy Pelosi for the role of Minority Leader in 2016, says it’s time to make the drug legal for recreational use in all 50 states.

The democrat’s argument was heavily based on the belief that arrests for marijuana possession have become a punishment that doesn’t fit the crime. “I believe no person should be sentenced to a lifetime of hardship because of a marijuana arrest,” Ryan wrote on Facebook.

The congressman argues that more Americans were arrested in 2017 for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined.

In an op-ed for CNN, Ryan claims studies have shown that legalizing marijuana would save law enforcement agencies $7.7 billion in operating costs while regenerating $6 billion in new tax revenue.

“Incarcerating young men and women, instead of educating and empowering them, is how our country gets left behind on the world stage,” the article adds.

Medical marijuana has already become a growing industry with the United States with some states adding more ailments to the list of approved conditions Americans can treat with cannabis.