Divided US House committee backs pot decriminalization

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – A divided House panel has endorsed a proposal to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.

Groups supporting an end to the nation’s longstanding prohibition on cannabis call the 24-10 vote by the House Judiciary Committee historic.

Opponents called the vote Wednesday in Washington a hollow political gesture.

If the measure comes up for a vote in the full House, it has better chances in the Democratic-controlled chamber than in the GOP-held Senate, where it’s future is uncertain.

The proposal would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to set their own marijuana policy.

Marijuana legalization advocates said the vote marked the first time legislation to end the federal prohibition had cleared a congressional committee.

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