A bill was first introduced by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) last fall and passed the panel by a 24-10 vote in November to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and erase some marijuana criminal records. It passed the committee with the votes of GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Tom McClintock (Calif.).
The bill would not legalize the drug, which would be left up to states, but marijuana is already legal in 11 states. The vote would still be a historic step in the effort to reduce legal penalties related to the drug. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) said in an email to members that the vote will take place during the September work period.
The vote would be the first taken by either chamber of Congress to take marijuana off the Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning there’s a high chance for abuse and no medical benefits. Removing it under the act would eliminate the federal prohibition on the drug but leave in place state laws making it illegal.
The vote comes amid a national reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality, with racial justice advocates noting the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against people of color. It is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
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