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.
Founder of Oaksterdam, Richard Lee, Main Proponent of CA’s Historic Prop. 19 Effort to Tax and Regulate Marijuana, Briefly Detained
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
OAKLAND, CA—Today, federal authorities, including U.S. Marshals, IRS and DEA agents, conducted an early-morning raid of Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, briefly detaining its founder, Richard Lee, who was subsequently released. Agents also conducted raids at two other medical marijuana locations. Federal authorities have not released any details about the raid, saying only that it was part of an ongoing investigation.
Bill Would Reclassify Simple Drug Possession as a Misdemeanor
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Sen. Mark Leno introduced SB1506, which reclassifies simple drug possession offenses as misdemeanors, thereby reducing the potential sentences for these offenses from a maximum of three years imprisonment to a maximum of one year in county jail. The bill is co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Hundreds to Gather to Demand End to 40 Years of Failed Policy and Celebrate Movement for Humane, Effective Drug Policies
LOS ANGELES – On Thursday, November 3, the international movement against the war on drugs will convene at Levitt Pavilion in historic MacArthur Park for the largest-ever "No More Drug War" mass protest. Hundreds of people will gather to acknowledge this year's 40th anniversary of the war on drugs, demand health-centered alternatives, and celebrate this incredible, diverse movement. The event will acknowledge the violence in Mexico, California's mass incarceration crisis, and the nation's overdose epidemic, among other topics.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Former NM Governor Gary Johnson to Join Calif. NAACP Head Alice Huffman, Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia, Rick Steves, Treatment Providers, Formerly Incarcerated People, Law Enforcement Officials, Half-Dozen Elected Officials, and a Thousand Other Participants to Promote Alternatives to the Failed War on Drugs
NO MORE DRUG WAR: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs at MacArthur Park on Thursday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.
LOS ANGELES— Will California, Washington State or Colorado vote to legalize marijuana in 2012? What are the solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence? Why do blacks go to jail for drugs at 13 times the rate of whites even though they use and sell drugs at similar rates? What are the results of Portugal decriminalizing all drugs 10 years ago? What can be done about the 50,000 prohibition-related deaths in Mexico since President Calderon ramped up the Mexican drug war five years ago?
The California Medical Association (CMA) has adopted official policy recommending legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Syringes Can Be Purchased at Pharmacies Without Prescription and Areas in Need Can Apply for Syringe Access Programs Through CA Dept. of Public Heath
Most Important HIV Prevention Policy Change in California in a Decade
California Governor Jerry Brown signed two life-saving bills last night that will help prevent new HIV and hepatitis C transmissions in California. The two bills expand access to sterile syringes, which is by far the most effective way to prevent HIV and hepatitis C among people who use drugs. These bills will save lives and save the California taxpayer money.
US Attorneys in California Say They Will Shut Down Dispensaries, Prosecute Landlords and Seize Properties Notwithstanding State Law
Obama Administration's Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies
Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state law and leave medical marijuana patients alone, its attack on patients and providers operating legally under state law is rapidly escalating. At least 16 landlords in California this week received letters stating that they are violating federal drugs laws and that state law will not protect them. The four US Attorneys in California are holding a press conference in Sacramento today in which they are expected to announce a broad crackdown on medical marijuana.
Advocates Urge Counties to Not Repeat the State's Failed Drug Policies and to Implement Health-Centered Approaches Instead