The Come to My Window star became an advocate for pot use after turning to medical marijuana nine years ago to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.
Etheridge has now detailed her own experiences with the drug in an op-ed piece for Cnn in a bid to urge politicians to seriously consider decriminalising the substance, in what has become a hot topic across the country.
She writes, "This herb, marijuana, is at the center of a debate within our society. The American Civil Liberties Union just released a report called, 'The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests', which outlines why marijuana reform is necessary. Many people are being arrested and their lives affected forever, sometimes devastated, because of marijuana possession.
"People use marijuana for different reasons, and I needed it to get me through tough times. I used it every day during chemo: It gave me an appetite so I was able to eat and keep my strength up. It also helped with the depression, and it eased the gastrointestinal pain..."
Etheridge argues marijuana has become more socially acceptable and, as more and more kids gain easier access to the drug, it's important to come up with a way to legally control its sale and distribution.
She continues, "These days our society is experiencing a new open-mindedness. We are beginning to break away from the old fears that governed our parents' world. We do not automatically fear someone because of the color of his or her skin. We do not fear for our children if homosexuals are living in the neighborhood. And we do not fear that smoking pot will necessarily lead to a life of ruin.
"I believe it is time to shine a light on the old 'Reefer Madness' fears. Let's legitimize cannabis sales so that our youth are as protected from illegal pot as they are from illegal alcohol and tobacco sales. Legitimize the growers so that pot can have regulations and I know I am supporting American businesses and not outlaws when I purchase it.
"The legalization of pot is making sense. It will create a real business form and take the lawlessness out of its sale and distribution... Our great Constitution challenges us to grow constantly. Let's put an end to marijuana prohibition and get clear regulations on the legal sale of pot. The benefits might surprise us."