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

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

Drug Policy Alliance to Host the 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, November 2-5

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?

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

CMA urges legalization and regulation of medical cannabis to allow for wider clinical research

October 16, 2011

The California Medical Association (CMA) has adopted official policy recommending legalization and regulation of cannabis.

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