California

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

DPA is committed to protecting patient access to medical marijuana in California by playing an active role in a number of state and local coalitions and by voicing priorities to Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  It is time to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition and replace it with sensible regulations for adult marijuana consumption, sales and cultivation. DPA and our allies are in the planning stages for a 2016 voter initiative that would legally regulate marijuana.

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.

Gov. Brown Backs Long-Sought Criminal Justice Realignment to Protect Public Safety and California Tax Dollars

Advocates Commend Strategy to Reduce Victimization and Expensive Incarceration for Low-Level Offenses

SACRAMENTO – In his proposed 2011-12 state budget released today, Governor Jerry Brown is urging structural changes to the state's corrections system that advocates say will reduce both crime and waste. The proposals include authorizing counties to handle people convicted of "nonviolent, non-serious, non-sex offenses, and without any previous convictions for such offenses," according to budget documents.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli at 213-291-4190 or Tommy McDonald at 510-229-5215

California Drug Policy Heroes and Zeroes

November 10, 2005
Backes, Glenn and Leverenz, Nikos
Commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance

Evaluation of members of the California Legislature is based on several criteria. Chief among them is whether a member has a consistent voting record for legislation that has a positively impact on drug policy in California. However, other factors were also considered, including significant signal of political courage in support of common-sense reforms.

Proposition 36: Improving Lives, Delivering Results

March 31, 2006
Drug Policy Alliance

This report is intended to help California state and county officials understand the positive impact of the historic Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 on California’s correctional system, drug treatment centers, and state budget over its first four years. This report also introduces readers to some inspiring true stories of how Prop 36 has helped tens of thousands of people turn their lives around.

Targeting Blacks for Marijuana: Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004-08

June 29, 2010
Levine, Harry G., et al.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization advocating alternatives to the war on drugs, has released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California. Focused on the 25 largest counties in the state, the report finds that African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at substantially higher rates than whites, typically at double, triple or even quadruple the rate of whites.

Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests, 2006-08

October 2, 2010
Levine, Harry G., et al.

The Drug Policy Alliance and the California State Conference of the NAACP have released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California. In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men. Yet, U.S.

Arresting Latinos for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests in 33 Cities, 2006-08

October 2, 2010
Levine, Harry G., et al.
Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance and the William C. Velasquez Institute have released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California. In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men. Yet, U.S.

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