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.

Our Campaigns

Marijuana Reform
Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition have affected millions of Californians. DPA played a key role in passing Prop 64, which legalizes the adult use of marijuana in the nation's most populous state and focuses on undoing the most egregious harms of marijuana prohibition.

If you have a criminal conviction for marijuana, you may be eligible to change your record or get resentenced. Find out how to change your record under Prop 64.

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

Proposition 64: A Guide To Resentencing & Reclassification

March 7, 2017
On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 (“Prop. 64”) into law. Prop. 64 legalizes the possession, transport, purchase, consumption and sharing of up to one ounce of marijuana and up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates for adults aged 21 and older. Adults may also grow up to six plants at home. The ballot measure also provides for a strict system to regulate and tax the nonmedical use of marijuana, which will not begin until 2018.
 

Immigration Impact: The Adult Use of Marijuana Act

September 29, 2016
Immigration Legal Resource Center

This report from the Immigration Legal Resource Center provides an analysis of California’s Proposition 64, or The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and its potential impact on immigrants with marijuana offenses. The report finds that Prop. 64 presents a timely and important opportunity to address one devastating effect of the failed "War on Drugs." By legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older, Prop. 64 will prevent the destruction of thousands of California families and will prevent loved ones from being detained or deported for minor marijuana offenses.

It’s Not Legal Yet: Nearly 500,000 Californians Arrested for Marijuana in Last Decade

August 18, 2016

Short of legalization, California has some of the most permissive marijuana possession laws in the United States, yet law enforcement continues to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate thousands of people annually for marijuana offenses. This report shows that there were nearly half a million marijuana felony and misdemeanor arrests in California between 2006 and 2015. Thousands of Californians are arrested annually for marijuana misdemeanors and felonies. These arrests are not equal. Black and Latino Californians are arrested for marijuana offenses at disproportionately high rates.

Marijuana Incarceration in California Jails

December 15, 2016
New Frontier Data
New Frontier Data conducted an analysis of data provided by 20 California counties to determine the number of people in California jails for marijuana-related offenses. They found that:
  • Thousands of adults are incarcerated for marijuana offenses in California and the severity of sentences varies dramatically across the state.
  • There is significant variation between counties in per capita rates of incarceration and length of sentences for similar offenses.

California Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Marijuana Legalization

Victory Expected to Accelerate Momentum to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition and to Reduce Role of Criminalization in Drug Policy

DPA’s Lynne Lyman: “Prop. 64 Represents New Gold Standard For How to Legalize Marijuana Responsibly”

California voters have approved Proposition 64, legalizing marijuana in the nation’s largest state.     The new law focuses on undoing the most egregious harms of marijuana prohibition, which have disproportionately impacted communities of color; restoring and protecting public lands and waterways that have been damaged by the lack of statewide regulation under current law; and protecting youth by preventing access to marijuana.

Contact:

Tommy McDonald, 510-338-8827, tmcdonald@drugpolicy.org
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384, tnewman@drugpolicy.org

California Governor Brown Signs Bill Protecting Californians from Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse

Law Requires Conviction In Most Cases Before Permanent Loss of Property

Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Signed Into Law Is One Of The Most Far Reaching Protection of Due Process And Property Rights

SACRAMENTO — Today, California Governor Brown signed into law a bill that would in most cases prevent law enforcement agencies from profiting from seized cash or property unless a person has been convicted of a crime. The law is one of the country’s most far-reaching protections against civil asset forfeiture abuse.

Contact:

Theshia Naidoo (510) 679-2313
Glenn Backes (916) 202-2538

It's Not Legal Yet: Nearly 500,000 Marijuana Arrests in California in the Last Decade

New DPA Report Finds Nearly 9,000 Felony Arrests for Marijuana in 2015, with Blacks and Latinos Enduring Greatest Burden of Marijuana Enforcement

California to Vote to Reduce Criminal Penalties and Legally Regulate Marijuana this November

August 18, 2016 (Oakland, CA) – A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance shows that there were nearly half a million marijuana felony and misdemeanor arrests in California between 2006 and 2015. Thousands of Californians are arrested annually for marijuana misdemeanors and felonies. These arrests are not equal. Black and Latino Californians are arrested for marijuana offenses at disproportionately high rates. In addition, youth under 18 years of age now make up the majority of misdemeanor arrestees.

Contact:

Tony Newman (646) 335-5384
Jolene Forman (510) 842-7560

Bipartisan Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Passes California Assembly

Requires Conviction In Most Cases Before Permanent Loss of Property

One Of The Most Far Reaching Reforms in the United States to Protect People’s Due Process And Property Rights

SACRAMENTO — Today, civil asset forfeiture reform legislation authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance) passed the Assembly Floor by a 67 to 7 vote.

Contact:

Lynne Lyman (213) 210-1023
Glenn Backes (916) 202-2538

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

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