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

For the past two decades, DPA has been at the forefront of the fight to end marijuana prohibition, both in California and around the country.  DPA is working in coalition to draft and run a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana for adults in California. Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition have impacted millions of Californians. DPA looks forward to leading the way into a post-prohibition era of sensible regulations, and a redirection of vital law enforcement resources. DPA also continues to be committed to protecting patient access to medical marijuana in California, by working with legislators to develop a regulation system that will best serve patients and their communities.

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.

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

Obama Administration Releases National Drug Control Strategy; California Advocates and Legislators Applaud the Emphasis on Preventing Fatal Overdose

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.

CONTACT: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224

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