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

First Supervised Consumption Services Bill to Win a Legislative Vote in U.S. Passes the California Assembly Public Safety Committee

AB 186 Needed to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths, HIV and Hepatitis C in California 
 
Bill Strongly Supported by Treatment Organizations, Including California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives (CAADPE), and Others

The Drug Policy Alliance’s bill, AB 186 (Eggman), made history as the first ever state bill on supervised consumption services (SCS) to win legislative votes in the U.S. It has now passed both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Health Committee, gaining support on health and pubic order grounds. A majority of legislators in each committee decided that these services were worth trying, to better address drug use in California. The bill would allow local jurisdictions to permit SCS and provide legal protections for the programs and participants.

Contact:

Laura Thomas 415-283-6366  

Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

Finding Quality, Reality-Based Drug Education and Counseling for California’s Teens

April 14, 2017
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) recommends providing youth with honest, comprehensive drug education focused on empowering them to assess risky situations and make choices that reduce potential harm. Research by prevention and drug education experts suggests that the criteria outlined in this guide contribute to program effectiveness. School districts and law enforcement officers should use this to select effective, evidence-based programs that will best meet the needs of the youth they serve.

California Governor Jerry Brown Moves to Align Medical and Adult Use Marijuana Regulation in California

Drug Policy Alliance: Gov. Brown’s proposed unified regulatory system critical to protect against federal intervention

Late Tuesday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposal to align medical marijuana regulations passed by the Legislature in 2015 and the 2016 Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop 64), both of which call for commercial licensing and regulation to begin in January 2018.

Contact:

Lynne Lyman, 818-602-9539
Tommy McDonald 510-679-2311

Thursday Teleconference: California Lawmaker Introduced Legislation to Protect Californians Against Federal Attacks on Lawful Marijuana Activity

Los Angeles Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer and advocates will discuss bill at Thursday morning telephone press briefing

California Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer will join advocates to hold a media teleconference briefing to discuss his legislation that would prohibit state and local agencies from using resources to assist federal law enforcement authorities with marijuana enforcement against people in compliance with California state law. The recently introduced bill is already generating controversy.

Contact:

Tommy McDonald 510-679-2311
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384

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

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