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.

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

Obummer (VIDEO)

August 28, 2012

President Obama has broken his promise to roll back the War on Drugs and has punted on the issue until a second term.

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