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. DPA sponsored landmark ballot initiatives that legalized medical marijuana (Prop. 215 in 1996), created the largest treatment-instead-of-incarceration program in the country (Prop. 36 in 2000), and sought to reduce criminal penalties for drug use while dramatically expanding access to drug treatment (Prop. 5 in 2008). DPA was also a primary supporter of Prop. 19 in 2010, which sought to legally regulate marijuana for adult use and helped mainstream the issue nationwide. And in 2012, we worked closely with allies in California to pass a historic ballot initiative to reform the state’s “three strikes” law.

In 2012, DPA’s California office, with critical support from allies, succeeded in getting 911 Good Samaritan legislation signed and enacted into law. This law provides limited immunity to individuals who seek medical attention to save the life of someone experiencing an overdose. In 2014, we will continue our work to reduce overdose deaths by seeking expanded access to naloxone, a generic, non-narcotic antidote to opiate overdose.

DPA has worked tirelessly to increase sterile syringe access in California to prevent HIV and hepatitis C transmission. In 2011, we won key victories that expanded syringe access to every county in the state. In 2014, as our law allowing for non-prescription sales of syringes sunsets, we are defending and expanding that victory with new legislation.

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 legalization voter initiative for the 2016 election.

With the 2012 “three strikes” reform’s two-to-one victory at the ballot box – as well as numerous polls demonstrating that more than 70 percent of Californians support reducing penalties for all drug possession and that more than 85 percent believe nonviolent drug offenders should not be crowded into our bursting prisons and jails – DPA believes now is the time for sentencing reform in California. In 2013 Governor Brown vetoed our bill to reduce the criminal penalty for drug possession in California from a felony to a misdemeanor. In 2014 DPA will support partner efforts to put this issue on the ballot, moving our drug policies toward a health-centered approach, cutting wasteful drug war spending, and reducing the life-long barriers that follow a drug conviction. In 2014, DPA will also sponsor legislation to eliminate racially based sentencing disparities between cocaine base and cocaine powder.

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 the state of California to build unprecedented support for drug policy reform. During the 2013 legislative cycle seventeen Latino organizations collectively signed on to DPA legislation that called for treating simple drug possession as a wobbler rather than an automatic felony. In 2014, DPA is partnering 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. To learn more about DPA’s Spanish language work, please see http://www.drugpolicy.org/es.

ATF Programs Target Inner City Youths Through Fictional Drug Heists That Border on Entrapment

As the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominee Todd Jones as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives yesterday, one controversial ATF practice was not raised during the hearings.

Jones, who has been working as interim ATF head, was not questioned about a program investigated in a special report by USA Today, that found the government agency had poured significant resources into luring former criminals and low-level drug dealers into large-scale crimes in order to convict them with long prison sentences.

Drugs Happen: Getting Real About Music Festivals

A couple of weeks ago, more than 70 people in Gorge, Washington were sent to area hospitals after what was initially reported to be a mass overdose on the club drug 'molly' (MDMA) at the Paradiso outdoor music festival. One man died from allegedly ingesting it. In keeping with unfortunate tradition, the media didn't ask many -- if any -- hard questions about the event.

City of Berkeley fights U.S. civil action against marijuana dispensary

(CNN) -- The city of Berkeley, California, is trying to stop the U.S. government from closing a medical marijuana dispensary and filed a federal court claim Wednesday, attorneys said.

In the latest strategy against federal attempts to shut down marijuana shops, the city contends the U.S. civil action would harm the city by depriving it of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, paid over a period of years, according to Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group whose attorneys are representing the city.

City of Berkeley Fights Federal Action to Seize Property of City's Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary

City Files Claim Asserting that Federal Action Harms Berkeley’s  Ability to Control and Regulate Medical Marijuana

Federal Action to Close Berkeley Patients Group will Hurt City’s Tax Revenue and Weaken Medical Marijuana Regulation, City Asserts in in Federal Court Proceeding

BERKELEY, CA - The City of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday in the action brought by the federal government in May to seize the property used by Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California.  Berkeley Patients Group has been providing medical marijuana to patients within the City since 1999.  It is in full compliance with the City of Berkeley’s medical marijuana ordinance, regulations, and zoning laws.

Contact: Tony Newman  646-335-5384 or Tamar Todd 510-593-4908

Recommendations for California Byrne Grant Spending

April 30, 2013

DPA’s specific recommendations are to increase the Byrne Grant funding for substance use treatment, reduce funding for activities that arrest people for low-level drug offenses, and to eliminate the funding for marijuana suppression activities. Historically, Byrne Grants have been used primarily to finance drug task forces, which have a record of racially disproportionate low-level drug arrests and increased local and state costs with no measurable impact on public safety.

California Overdose Prevention Bill, AB 831, Stalled in Assembly Appropriations Committee

Committee Vetoes Overdose Prevention Funding; OD Remains Leading Cause of Accidental Death in State

Last Friday, California’s Assembly Appropriations committee chairman Mike Gatto chose to hold Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s overdose prevention funding bill, AB 831, in committee, effectively killing it for this year. Procedurally the bill remains in committee and could be moved forward in a year.

Contact: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224

Los Angeles Citizens Vote to Regulate Medical Marijuana

State oversight would help clarify new regulations

LOS ANGELES, CA – Yesterday, the citizens of Los Angeles voted to regulate medical marijuana by voting to pass Proposition D, one of three medical marijuana regulation measures on the ballot. The Proposition received 62.57% of the vote. Proposition D caps the number of collectives at those who opened prior to 2007, about 130, raises the gross receipts tax from $50 to $60 per $1000 of gross receipts, and establishes the distances they must keep from schools, parks, one another and residential neighborhoods.

Contact: Amanda Reiman 510-847-2405 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Legislación SB 649 del Senador Mark Leno, Aprobado por el Senado con más del 50% del Voto

Legislación reducirá la pena por la posesión de pequeñas cantidades de drogas. Ahora el proyecto de ley va a la Asamblea del estado.

SACRAMENTO, CA - Hoy, el Senado de California aprobó la Legislación SB649, que dará discreción judicial a la fiscalía local para la convicción de posesión de pequeñas cantidades de drogas ilegales para uso personal de un delito grave a un delito menor.  Patrocinado por el senador Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), SB 649 ayudaría a reducir la población de carcel en California y potencialmente proporcionar ahorros a los tribunales ya que delitos graves requieren el establecimiento costoso de una audiencia preliminar, mientr

Contacto: Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or Armando Gudiño 562-413-9003

California Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

Statement from Drug Policy Alliance:  "The Only Way to Protect Patients is for California to Adopt State Wide Medical Marijuana Regulation"

Today, the California Supreme Court held that localities may entirely ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions in a closely watched case, City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center.   The result of the Court’s ruling is that tens of thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients in California will be without safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  To date more than 200 localities have banned dispensaries outright.

Contact: Amanda Reiman: 510-730-2811 or Tamar Todd: 510-229-5213

Sen. Mark Leno’s Bill, SB 649, to Reduce the Penalty for Simple Drug Possession Clears the Senate Floor with a 23-14 Vote

Proposed Bill Would Help Curb Prison and Jail Overcrowding in California; Heads to the Assembly Next

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, the California Senate approved SB649, which will give prosecutorial and judicial discretion to charge possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as a felony or a misdemeanor as the case warrants, by a 23-14 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California and potentially even provide savings to the financially-strapped courts because felony charges require setting a preliminary hearing, whereas misdemeanor offenses do not.

CONTACT: Lynne Lyman (213) 210-1023 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

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