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.

DPA Staff Presentations at the 2013 California NORML Conference

January 26, 2013

Several DPA staff members spoke as panelists at California NORML's 2013 conference on January 26-27 in San Francisco. The conference explored the history, causes and costs of marijuana prohibition -- and strategies for ending it.

Bringing Down the New Jim Crow Radio Series

June 4, 2013
Series produced by Chris Moore-Backman

Inspired by Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking book THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS, this series of radio documentaries explores the intersection of the drug war, mass incarceration, and race in the contemporary U.S.

CA Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Comes Out in Support of Marijuana Legalization in Front Page NY Times Story

Newsom Adds Voice to Growing List of Prominent U.S. and World Leaders Calling for Alternatives to Failed Drug War

Full-Page DPA NY Times Ad Yesterday: Thanks Colorado and Washington Voters, Pat Robertson, Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, and Presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Uruguay

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

California's New 'Good Samaritan' Overdose Prevention Law Goes into Effect January 1, 2013

California Becomes Largest State in U.S. to Enact Legislation Aimed at Curbing National Overdose Crisis

Contact: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224

What does marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington mean for the rest of the country?

December 5, 2012

Amanda Reiman, Policy manager at DPA, talks with Cannabis Consciousness about the fine details of the marijuana regulation and taxation laws in Colorado and Washington, and the impact it will have on drug policy nationally.

California Votes to Reform Draconian "Three Strikes" Mandatory Minimum Law

November 7, 2012
Lynne Lyman

Californians voted to put an end to one of the harshest and least effective sentencing laws in the country. Proposition 36 ensures that no more people are sentenced to life in prison for minor and nonviolent drug law violations. Implementation of the new law will not only bring relief to petty offenders moving forward, but inmates currently serving life sentences for non-serious, non-violent crimes can apply for a new sentence.

California Votes to Reform Draconian "Three Strikes" Mandatory Minimum Law

Proposition 36 Puts End to 25-to-Life Sentences for Minor Drug Law Violations and Other Nonviolent Crimes

Californians voter appear to have voted overwhelmingly to reform their state’s draconian “three strikes” law. The measure, Proposition 36, which enjoyed a huge lead in early returns, will close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

Contact: Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240 or Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023

Angela Davis - The House I Live In

September 24, 2012

Forty years after Professor Angela Davis became a symbol of resistance in the African American community, she attended a preview screening of The House I Live In, which documents the destructive impact of today's war on drugs on poor and minority communities.

Demonstration Safe Injection Facility Launched at the 140th APHA Annual Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 27 in San Francisco

The American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in San Francisco next week showcases a controversial public health intervention for people who inject drugs. Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are an effective public health intervention where people can inject drugs using sterile equipment and with medical supervision, but none currently operate in the United States because of political and legal barriers. A model SIF will be on display in the APHA Exhibit Hall and will be available for media tours.

Contact: Laura Thomas – 415-283-6366 or Clare Hacksel – 604-618-4074

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