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 2013, 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. We are preparing now to defend and expand those victories in 2014 when the state’s law allowing for non-prescription sales of syringes will have to be renewed.
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. In light of the decisive electoral victories in Colorado and Washington in favor of legally regulating marijuana for adults, DPA is excited about bringing this policy change to California in 2016. 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 real sentencing reform in California. In 2013, we will build on our 2012 legislative efforts to reduce the criminal penalty for drug possession in California from a felony to a misdemeanor. This reform would move our drug policies toward a health-centered approach, cut wasteful drug war spending, and reduce the life-long barriers that follow a drug conviction. Likewise, DPA will pursue other sentencing reforms to eliminate outrageous racial disparities that are endemic in drug sentencing for people of color.
Learn more about our campaigns.
California Bill to Implement Statewide Overdose Prevention Strategy Faces Budget Hurdle
SACRAMENTO—The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the National Drug Control Strategy, which included strong support for overdose prevention programs and expanded access to the overdose reversal medicine naloxone.
Proposed Bill Would Help Curb Prison and Jail Overcrowding in California; Heads to a Full Floor Vote in May
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee 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 4-2 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California.
Newsom Makes Bold Statement in Huffington Post Piece
California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, in a piece on the Huffington Post, has called on his state to lead the nation in ending marijuana prohibition and the failed drug war, as it led in adopting the nation’s first medical marijuana law in 1996.
Public Health Advocates and Families Urge California Assembly Appropriations Committee to Pass New Overdose Prevention Bill
SACRAMENTO—In a showing of bipartisan support yesterday, the Assembly Health Committee voted in favor of Asm. Richard Bloom’s (D-Santa Monica) AB 831, a bill that would require a temporary state task force of experts to develop a comprehensive plan to address the state’s overdose crisis, as well as establish a modest funding source for groups working to reduce overdose deaths. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before a floor vote of the full Assembly later this session.
This clip shows Republican congressional members from California along with other national leaders speaking out against the unjust racial disparities in sentencing between powder and crack cocaine during passage of the federal “Fair Sentencing Act of 2010” that narrowed the federal disparity in sentencing from 100:1 to 18:1.
Parent Activists and Overdose Prevention Groups Cheer Groundbreaking State Legislation
SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced an overdose prevention bill that many are hailing as the first of its kind in the state.
NBC Los Angeles reporter Michelle Valles explains the opiate overdose reversal medication naloxone (Narcan) and the efforts to expand access to the lifesaving drug (air date Friday, March 22, 2013)
On January 1, 2013, California became the tenth state to implement a 911 Good Samaritan overdose fatality prevention law. This law is designed to encourage people to quickly seek medical care for an overdose victim by providing limited protection from arrest, charge and/or prosecution for low-level drug law violations. DPA and our allies spearheaded the passage of this law – and we are now working throughout the state to ensure its effective implementation.
DPA worked directly with Senator Mark Leno's office on a bill that would go a long way toward solving California's mass incarceration crisis. By allowing judges to sentence drug possession as a misdemeanor, defendants can avoid long prison terms and the life-long collateral consequences that follow a felony conviction.