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

LA City Council Votes to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

DPA Statement: LA's short-sighted ban of medical marijuana dispensaries puts its most vulnerable citizens at risk

LOS Angeles—Today the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. This latest disruption of safe access to medical marijuana for patients in California is a result of the vacuum of statewide regulation on this issue.

Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or 510-229-5215

U.S. Justice Department Launches New Attack in War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers in California

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s Property Forfeiture Attempt against Well-Respected Oakland Medical Marijuana Dispensary a Clear Signal that Will of California Voters in Grave Jeopardy

OAKLAND, CA—One of California's most well-known, and well-regulated, medical marijuana dispensaries, Harborside Health Center, was served with a civil complaint for "forfeiture of property" this week for both of their locations in Oakland and San Jose. Harborside has been regulated and permitted by the City of Oakland for many years.

Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, issued the following statement:

Bill Piper 202-669-6430 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Drug Policy Alliance Names Lynne Lyman California State Director

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023

UC San Diego Student Left in Holding Cell for Five Days; Drank His Own Urine to Survive, Then Attempted Suicide

Student Was Smoking Pot at House Raided by DEA; Never Charged With Any Crime

Statement by Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

California Law Enforcement and Medical Marijuana

August 1, 2011

Law enforcement attitudes towards medical marijuana in California have been mixed. Generally, many law enforcement officials and associations have been hostile to medical marijuana, since California’s voters legalized it in 1996 and continuing today.

Federal Agents with the IRS, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Raid Oaksterdam University this Morning

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.

Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Senator Leno Introduces Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

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)

Theshia Naidoo 510-229-5214 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

NO MORE DRUG WAR: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs at MacArthur Park on Thursday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.

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.

Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827 or Tony Newman (646-335-5384

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