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.
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Court dismisses Pack v. City of Long Beach
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court dismissed the case of Pack v. City of Long Beach. The Pack case addresses the issue of whether local regulations governing medical marijuana production and distribution are preempted by the federal law Controlled Substances Act. The Supreme Court decision to dismiss this case means that localities can move forward enacting and implementing regulatory programs as they have been for many years.
The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization promoting alternatives to the war on drugs, has appointed Amanda Reiman policy manager. Reiman will provide oversight, strategy and direction for DPA’s California efforts around marijuana law reform.
Newly created commission tasked to develop innovative, evidence-based sentencing strategies
Theshia Naidoo, a senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, has been appointed to the San Francisco Sentencing Commission. The commission is a newly created body charged with developing criminal sentencing strategies that reduce recidivism, prioritize public safety and victim protection, emphasize fairness, employ evidence-based best practices and efficiently utilize San Francisco’s criminal justice resources.
DPA Statement: LA's short-sighted ban of medical marijuana dispensaries puts its most vulnerable citizens at risk
LOS Angeles—Today the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. This latest disruption of safe access to medical marijuana for patients in California is a result of the vacuum of statewide regulation on this issue.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s Property Forfeiture Attempt against Well-Respected Oakland Medical Marijuana Dispensary a Clear Signal that Will of California Voters in Grave Jeopardy
OAKLAND, CA—One of California's most well-known, and well-regulated, medical marijuana dispensaries, Harborside Health Center, was served with a civil complaint for "forfeiture of property" this week for both of their locations in Oakland and San Jose. Harborside has been regulated and permitted by the City of Oakland for many years.
Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, issued the following statement:
Student Was Smoking Pot at House Raided by DEA; Never Charged With Any Crime
Statement by Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance
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.
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.