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.

U.S. Justice Department Launches New Attack in War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers in California

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:

Bill Piper 202-669-6430 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Drug Policy Alliance Names Lynne Lyman California State Director

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023

UC San Diego Student Left in Holding Cell for Five Days; Drank His Own Urine to Survive, Then Attempted Suicide

Student Was Smoking Pot at House Raided by DEA; Never Charged With Any Crime

Statement by Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance

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

California Law Enforcement and Medical Marijuana

August 1, 2011

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.

Federal Agents with the IRS, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Raid Oaksterdam University this Morning

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.

Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Senator Leno Introduces Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

Bill Would Reclassify Simple Drug Possession as a Misdemeanor

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Sen. Mark Leno introduced SB1506, which reclassifies simple drug possession offenses as misdemeanors, thereby reducing the potential sentences for these offenses from a maximum of three years imprisonment to a maximum of one year in county jail. The bill is co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Theshia Naidoo 510-229-5214 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

NO MORE DRUG WAR: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs at MacArthur Park on Thursday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.

Hundreds to Gather to Demand End to 40 Years of Failed Policy and Celebrate Movement for Humane, Effective Drug Policies

LOS ANGELES – On Thursday, November 3, the international movement against the war on drugs will convene at Levitt Pavilion in historic MacArthur Park for the largest-ever "No More Drug War" mass protest. Hundreds of people will gather to acknowledge this year's 40th anniversary of the war on drugs, demand health-centered alternatives, and celebrate this incredible, diverse movement. The event will acknowledge the violence in Mexico, California's mass incarceration crisis, and the nation's overdose epidemic, among other topics.

Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827 or Tony Newman (646-335-5384

Drug Policy Alliance to Host the 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, November 2-5

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Former NM Governor Gary Johnson to Join Calif. NAACP Head Alice Huffman, Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia, Rick Steves, Treatment Providers, Formerly Incarcerated People, Law Enforcement Officials, Half-Dozen Elected Officials, and a Thousand Other Participants to Promote Alternatives to the Failed War on Drugs

NO MORE DRUG WAR: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs at MacArthur Park on Thursday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.

LOS ANGELES— Will California, Washington State or Colorado vote to legalize marijuana in 2012? What are the solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence? Why do blacks go to jail for drugs at 13 times the rate of whites even though they use and sell drugs at similar rates? What are the results of Portugal decriminalizing all drugs 10 years ago? What can be done about the 50,000 prohibition-related deaths in Mexico since President Calderon ramped up the Mexican drug war five years ago?

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

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