House to Vote on Removing Cannabis From List of Controlled Substances

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 Nadler (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 Gaetz (Fla.) and Tom McClintock (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.

According to statements from leading Democrats, the House will vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act around Sept. 21—the strongest step toward federal legalization ever taken by Congress.

“It’s the first-ever comprehensive marijuana legalization bill to ever be considered for a full House floor vote,” said Queen Adesuyi, national affairs policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.