File photo: a marijuana plant. Photograph:( AFP )
Already, 15 US states and the District of Colombia allow recreation use of marijuana and 30 states permit the use of the drug for medicinal purposes
The US House of Representatives on Friday voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, days after the United Nations removed it from the list of world's most dangerous drugs.
This was the first time either chamber of Congress has voted to end the federal ban on cannabis.
However, the bill is not expected to gather support at the Senate as long as it remains under the control of Republicans.
Already, 15 US states and the District of Colombia allow recreation use of marijuana and 30 states permit the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.
However, the drug faces a ban at the federal level, which limits cannabis companies' access to banking services and funding.
The House, which has a majority of Democrats, voted 224-168, by and large on party lines to remove the ban on marijuana.
However, it will be difficult for the bill to get it approved by the Senate as its majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, opposes it.
The Democrats can move the bill only if they take control of Senate after winning both Georgia seats where voting will occur on January 5.
“This legislation does not legalize cannabis across the country. It stops the federal government from interfering with what states have decided to do," said Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.