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House to vote on removing cannabis from list of controlled substances

The House will vote on legislation next month to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and erase some marijuana criminal records. 

The bill would not legalize the drug, which would be left up to states, but the vote will still be a historic step in the effort to reduce legal penalties related to the drug. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in an email to members that the vote will take place during the September work period.

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Marijuana is already legal in 11 states.

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.

It would also expunge criminal records and provide grant funding for people who have been negatively impacted by enforcement of marijuana laws. 

The bill was first introduced by House Judiciary Chair Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight MORE (D-N.Y.) last fall and passed the panel by a 24-10 vote in November. It passed the committee with the votes of GOP Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzFlorida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win MORE (Fla.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockAn attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation Coalition of 7 conservative House Republicans says they won't challenge election results Five Republicans vote for bill to decriminalize marijuana MORE (Calif.). It is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

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.