The United States House of Representatives voted on Friday to decriminalise cannabis at the federal level, but the legislation is not expected to advance further as long as the Senate remains in Republican hands.
It was the first time either chamber of Congress has voted to end the federal ban on cannabis since the drug was listed as a “controlled substance” in 1970.
Fifteen US states and the District of Columbia have legalised recreational use of cannabis, and more than 30 states allow some form of the drug for medicinal purposes.
But the federal ban on the drug persists, which creates conflicts with state laws and limits cannabis companies’ access to banking services and funding.
The Democratic-majority House voted 228-164, largely along party lines, to lift the federal prohibition on Friday.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, is an opponent of the change, meaning a decriminalisation proposal is unlikely to get to the Senate unless Democrats manage to win two runoff elections in the state of Georgia.
Those votes, set for January 5, would give Democrats control of the next Senate.
The House bill passed on Friday would allow states to regulate cannabis, Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat and co-chairman of the…