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 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 has endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, an initiative expected to be on the November 2016 ballot to tax, regulate, and control 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 implement a regulation system that will best serve patients and their communities.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.