California

For more than 15 years in California, the Drug Policy Alliance has sponsored and supported some of the nation’s most progressive drug policy reforms, including significant reforms in the arenas of marijuana access, harm reduction and criminal justice.

DPA’s team in California has worked tirelessly to increase sterile syringe access in California to prevent HIV and hepatitis C transmission; sponsored the landmark ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana; created the largest treatment-instead-of-incarceration program in the country; helped reduce criminal penalties for drug use while dramatically expanding access to drug treatment; expanded access to the lifesaving overdose reversal medication naloxone; and has sought to legally regulate marijuana for adult use in California while leading the nationwide effort to do so.

DPA's Marijuana Reforms in California

For the past two decades, DPA has been at the forefront of the fight to end marijuana prohibition, both in California and around the country. DPA has endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, an initiative expected to be on the November 2016 ballot to tax, regulate, and control marijuana for adults in California. Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition have impacted millions of Californians. DPA looks forward to leading the way into a post-prohibition era of sensible regulations, and a redirection of vital law enforcement resources. DPA also continues to be committed to protecting patient access to medical marijuana in California, by working with legislators to implement a regulation system that will best serve patients and their communities.

DPA's Harm Reduction Reforms in California

In 2011, DPA won key victories that expanded syringe access to every county in the state. In 2012, with support from allies, we succeeded in getting 911 Good Samaritan legislation signed and enacted into law, providing limited immunity to individuals seeking medical attention for someone experiencing an overdose. In 2014, we victoriously defended and expanded our law allowing for non-prescription sales of syringes with new legislation signed into law. We also achieved victory with a law allowing pharmacy sales of naloxone without a prescription to people who may witness or experience an opiate overdose. In 2015, DPA will focus on the successful implementation of these two laws statewide, along with advancing harm reduction strategies in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties.

DPA's Criminal Justice Reforms in California

In 2012, we worked closely with allies in California to pass a historic ballot initiative to reform the state’s “Three Strikes” law with a two-to-one victory at the ballot box.

While Governor Brown vetoed DPA’s bill to reduce the criminal penalty for drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor in 2013, in 2014 DPA and our allies achieved victory with Prop 47, which applied this reform both prospectively and retroactively,  along with other penalty reductions for low level crimes.. In 2014, DPA achieved victory on a ten-year effort  to eliminate racially-based sentencing disparities between cocaine base and cocaine powder possession for sale through the passage of the California Fair Sentencing Act. In 2015, DPA will seek to reform law enforcement practices related to civil asset forfeiture.

Latinos and DPA in California

Since 2012 DPA has been working to engage Latinos in Southern California on drug policy reform issues. Our effort launched with the Caravan for Peace and Justice, a bi-national venture led by prominent Mexican poet Javier Sicilia. Since then, we have engaged more than four dozen prominent Latino organizations across California to build unprecedented support for drug policy reform. During the 2013 and 2014 legislative cycles nearly two dozen Latino organizations supported DPA legislation that called for reducing the penalty for  simple drug possession  and equalizing penalties for crack and powder cocaine.  DPA  also partnered with Presente.org to shape Latino opinion on drug policy – illustrating its effects on Latino families in California by using coordinated online, on-the-ground, and social and mainstream media engagement. In 2015, DPA is spearheading an effort to prevent deportation for immigrants who commit low level drug law violations. To learn more about DPA’s Spanish language work, please see http://www.drugpolicy.org/es.

One in 10 People Report Having Police Take Their Cash or Property without a Conviction in Los Angeles, Riverside & San Bernardino

Two new surveys find overwhelming public opposition in California to laws allowing law enforcement to seize and keep a person’s cash and property without a conviction

California legislature considers reform to rein in abuse

LOS ANGELES–In a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a startling 10 percent of adults living in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties said that they had had their property taken by a police officer without being convicted of a crime. Nearly one in five (19 percent) of those living in these three counties also stated that they know someone who had experienced the same.

Contact:

Lynne Lyman 818-602-9539
Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

California Leaders and Advocates Join Over 1,000 Worldwide Calling for End to "Disastrous" Drug War, Ahead of UN Special Session

Former Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Switzerland & Poland; Former Prime Ministers of Greece, Hungary & The Netherlands Join With Distinguished Scholars, Celebrities, Clergy, Business Leaders, Elected Officials, and Others in Calling for Alternatives to Prohibitionist Drug Control Policies

“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

(Los Angeles, California) – On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023

Tuesday: California Assembly Committee Hearing on Supervised Consumption Services for People Who Use Drugs

Speakers Include Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, Former Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer and Mayor of Vancouver Who Established First Supervised Consumption Facility in North America

Bill Creates a Public Health Response to California’s Overdose Crisis; Allows Cities to Provide A Safe and Supervised Space for People Who Use Drugs

Tuesday, April 5, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee will hold a legislative hearing on AB 2495 (Eggman) to permit localities to establish supervised consumption services (SCS), which allow individuals to consume controlled substances in a safe space, provide sterile equipment, and connect patients to treatment, medical care, and other social services.

Contact:

Laura Thomas 415-283-6366
Tony Newman: 646-335-5384

Drug Policy Alliance Applauds Ralphs for Being First Chain Supermarket in California to Make Overdose Antidote Naloxone Available Without a Prescription

Southern California Supermarket Chain Ralphs Joins CVS Pharmacies in Making Naloxone More Accessible to Californians

SAN FRANCISCO— The Drug Policy Alliance is applauding Southern California supermarket giant Ralphs for being the first chain grocery in California to stock and sell the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone in their pharmacies without a prescription. All store locations in Southern California will soon make the lifesaving drug available to friends and family members of people at risk of an opiate overdose.

Contact:

Laura Thomas 415.283.6366
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

CA State Director, Lynne Lyman Talks About the Failed War on Drugs

September 12, 2015
Series produced by Matt Mandarino

Taking on Tomorrow is a podcast series featuring interviews with modern visionaries, including innovators, entrepreneurs and social activists. In this episode, Lynne Lyman of the Drug Policy Alliance talks about the failed war on drugs and what we can do about it.

One Year Later and the Experts Agree: California's Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Measure, Proposition 47 is a Success

Thousands of Californians Get Relief under Prop. 47; State Saves Millions in Prison and Jail Costsp

In First Year, Prop 47 Implementation Hampered by Lackluster State and Local Officials

SACRAMENTO, CA – A year after Californians overwhelmingly voted to end harsh sentencing laws and reform the criminal justice system, Proposition 47: The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act is being touted as a resounding success. With 60 percent of the vote, Californians declared that people should no longer be incarcerated for long periods of times for simple drug possession or petty property crimes.

Contact:

Eunisses Hernandez (323) 820-8677
Lynne Lyman (213) 210-1023

Federal Ruling Protects Medical Marijuana Dispensaries That Follow State Law

In Precedent-Setting Case, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer Rules Justice Department in Violation of Federal Law and Lifts Injunction Against Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Judge Cites Recent Congressional Reforms, as Support for Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Continues to Grow in Congress

Yesterday, a federal judge lifted an injunction against one of California’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries. The injunction can no longer be enforced in the wake of a congressional spending amendment passed by Congress last year—the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment—that precluded the Department of Justice from spending funds on prosecuting dispensaries in compliance with state law. Setting significant legal precedent, Senior Judge Charles R. Breyer of the U.S.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646.335.5384
Bill Piper 202.669.6430

CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill to Allow Those who Completed Court Ordered Diversion Programs to Clean Up Records

Governor Vetoes Partner Bill that Allowed Courts Discretion to Order Diversion Without a Guilty Plea

Both Bills Intended to Prevent Deportations for Nonviolent, Minor Drug Law Violations

SACRAMENTO, CA –Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown acted on two life-changing companion bills, approving one, but vetoing the other. Brown signed A.B. 1352 which allows those who have completed court ordered drug diversion since 1997 to file with the court to convert their plea to a “not guilty.”  Before 1997, there was a pre-plea diversion option in California.  The relief applies only to those who have completed diversion, which has already resulted in clearing the arrest and conviction from their record.

Contact:

Armando Gudiño (562) 413-9003


A Guide to Prop. 47 Reclassification in Los Angeles County

October 2, 2015

Proposition 47 is a law passed by voter initiative in California on November 4, 2014. Prop. 47 changed certain low-level crimes like drug possession and petty-theft offenses from felonies or wobblers (crimes that could be tried as felonies or misdemeanors) to misdemeanors. The provisions of Prop. 47 apply retroactively (for persons already convicted for these crimes) and going forward for all future criminal adjudications.

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