California

For nearly twenty years, the Drug Policy Alliance has sponsored and supported some of the nation’s most progressive drug policy reforms in California. Learn about the work of our California team and how you can help support their efforts to create effective drug policies in the golden state.


Voter Alert!
DPA has endorsed Prop 64, which would control, regulate and tax responsible adult use of marijuana in California.
Learn more about the initiative


Our Campaigns

Marijuana Reform
Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition have affected millions of Californians. DPA is committed to ending marijuana prohibition and protecting patient access to medical marijuana in California.

Harm Reduction
DPA is working to reduce the harms associated with drug use in California. Our priorities include expanding sterile syringe access, preventing overdose, increasing access to effective treatment and establishing supervised injection facilities.

Criminal Justice
Drug arrests have led to unprecedented levels of incarceration in California, especially for people of color. DPA advocates for broad sentencing reform, alternatives to incarceration, protecting immigrants from deportation for drug offenses, reversing the negative impact of past drug-related criminalization and ending civil asset forfeiture.


Did you know you could get the opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone, in California pharmacies without a prescription?
Find a participating pharmacy


Engaging Latinos

DPA is working to engage Latinos in Southern California on drug policy issues. We are building unprecedented support for drug policy reform by engaging prominent Latino organizations across the state.

Recent efforts

  • Since 2012, we have been an ally of the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice, a group of activists who travel through Central and North America to spread awareness and generate discussion about the humanitarian crisis caused by the US-funded drug war in Mexico.
  • In 2013 and 2014, 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.
  • In 2015, DPA partnered with immigrant rights advocates to advance “crimigration” legislation, an effort to prevent deportation for immigrants who commit low-level drug law violations.

See our Spanish language materials


The Drug Policy Alliance is proud to support state and local organizations that are working for drug policy reform. Thank you to our allies in California. 

See our list of allies

Marijuana Enforcement Disparities In California: A Racial Injustice

May 31, 2016

New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011.

Marijuana Infraction Enforcement Nearly 4 Times More Severe for Black Californians and 1.5 Times More Severe for Latino Californians than for Whites, Finds New DPA and ACLU Report

Black and Latino Boys and Young Men at Particular Risk, Despite Similar Marijuana Use Rates Across Racial Lines

California to Vote on Removing Criminal Penalties and Legal Regulation of Marijuana This November

May 31, 2016 (Oakland, CA) – New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011. Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable in California by a base fine up to $100 (plus substantial fees).

Contact:

Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827
Amanda Reiman 510-730-2811

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

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