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 NadlerDemocrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams Andrew Cuomo attorney says AG investigation was 'shoddy,' outcome was 'predetermined' Democrats quietly explore barring Trump from office over Jan. 6  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) GaetzOn The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows House lawmakers urge Pelosi to bring stock trading ban to the floor Mask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House MORE (Fla.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockCongress to take up marijuana reform this spring Vaccine mandate backlash sparks concerns of other health crises The right fire to fight fire — why limiting prescribed burning is short-sighted 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.