The Drug Policy Alliance has been active in California since 1996, when it spearheaded the campaign to pass Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. Since the passage of Prop. 215, DPA has worked vigilantly through both legislative advocacy and litigation in federal and state courts to expand, protect, and defend medical marijuana in California.
DPA was also instrumental in making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority in San Francisco and Oakland.
Just four years later, DPA sponsored another successful initiative, Proposition 36, which created the largest treatment-instead-of-incarceration program in the nation. Under this law, people convicted for the first or second time of a nonviolent, low-level drug possession offense receive community-based drug treatment instead of jail or prison.
In 2008, DPA put Proposition 5 – the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act – on the ballot. The largest prison and sentencing reform in U.S. history, that initiative was defeated by a deceptive, multi-million dollar campaign waged by the prison industrial complex. However, it did succeed in setting the terms of the current debate around criminal justice reform in California.
DPA has also led historic efforts in California to advance other significant health-centered drug policy reforms. These include harm reduction legislation to authorize and fund syringe access and to prevent overdose deaths.
Finally, DPA has secured other reforms through the legislative process in Sacramento. California lawmakers improved pain management practices for doctors and patients, enabled drug treatment participants to seal records of their convictions, and extended the University of California’s medical marijuana research program.