Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan says the bill 
will help free up money for reducing crime.

OAKLAND | Legislation was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate effectively seeking to end the federal government’s lengthy war on marijuana and Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan wants a hit of the historic bill.

The legislation, co-authored by U.S. Sens Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is referred to as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS Act). It would de-emphasize cannabis as a Schedule 2 narcotic, allow for greater local control of medical marijuana regulations and to further pursue its medical benefits.

It will also remove “fear of federal prosecution” for growers and dispensaries in states and municipalities that have already passed medical marijuana legislation.

Kaplan, long a supporter of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries, applauded the bill’s introduction Tuesday.

“With the war on drugs leading to tremendous public costs through overzealous prosecution and incarceration, especially for people of color, the CARERS Act will result in less public money being needed for prisons,” said Kaplan.

Oakland’s eight dispensaries, a few which are some of the most successful and imitated in the nation, have frequently had their operation under attack by federal government.

“This is money that can and should be spent on education, infrastructure and job creation. Furthermore, if the Feds have extra law enforcement resources, those resources should be used to reduce violence and illegal guns,” added Kaplan.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana legislation. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Advocates in California believe the issue will come before voters in November 2016.