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 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.
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 is working in coalition to draft and run a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate 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 develop a regulation system that will best serve patients and their communities.
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.
Bill Would Prevent Deportation and Loss of Public Benefits for Minor Drug Law Violations
Bill Now Heads to Governor Brown’s Desk
Sacramento – Today, the California Senate took a bold step toward addressing the often-devastating consequences of a minor drug law violation, such as deportation and the loss of federal housing and educational benefits. The Senate vote was 21-15, with 4 members absent. The bill heads to Governor Brown’s desk for approval.
Over 10,000 Signatories Tell Feinstein to Stop Opposing Medical Marijuana
Petition Follows Feinstein's Recent Vote Against Protecting Californian Residents from Federal Interference in Medical Marijuana Laws
California – A groups of California-based advocates will hand-deliver a petition to the San Francisco office of Sen. Feinstein (D-CA). Feinstein has been a leading opponent of marijuana reform, and recently spoke out against an amendment that would protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference. The amendment passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 21-9, with Feinstein as the only Democrat to oppose the measure, with 8 Republicans voting in support.
Top Experts in Policy, Science and Regulation Discuss the Public Health, Social Justice and Environmental Issues Related to Marijuana Legalization
In an effort to educate the public and discuss pressing issues related to the legalization of marijuana in California in 2016, the Drug Policy Alliance held three symposia, each focusing on a different aspect of marijuana regulation. Videos from those symposia are now available online to view for free.
Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Nationwide Gains Momentum with Sacramento Vote
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, civil asset forfeiture reform legislation, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) won nearly unanimous approval in the California State Senate with a 38-1 vote.
Co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU and the Institute for Justice, SB 443 will require law enforcement agencies in the State of California to adhere to state laws regarding civil asset forfeiture, rather than transferring cases to federal prosecutors and courts where property rights and evidentiary standards are much lower.
Tuesday Teleconference Featuring California State Senator Holly Mitchell, Author of New California Bill to Rein in Forfeiture Abuses
With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform
Tomorrow, the Drug Policy Alliance launches Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.
Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law. Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police
Proposition 47, officially called The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, 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) to misdemeanors, retroactively and going forward.
This is the first in a series of fact sheets that will address different implementation issues. This fact sheet exlcusivley addresses record reclassification.
Alaska, Oregon and D.C. Pass Marijuana Legalization, as California and New Jersey Pass Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reforms
DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016
Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider drug war, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.
Passage of Proposition 47 Will Spare Thousands From Unnecessary Time Behind Bars and Save Billions of Taxpayer Dollars
DPA: Overwhelming Support Sends Powerful National Message
Today, California voters took a significant step toward ending mass incarceration and the war on drugs by approving Proposition 47. On the heels of reforming the state’s “three strikes” law in the 2012 election, Californians overwhelmingly voted to change six low-level, nonviolent offenses – including simple drug possession – from felonies to misdemeanors.
Proposition 46 (Prop 46) is the “Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute.” It is on the California ballot for the November 4, 2014 election.
The Drug Policy Alliance opposes Prop 46 because of its invasive random drug testing provisions, its ineffective and punitive approach to substance misuse, and its lack of privacy protections for personal health information.