California

For nearly twenty years, the Drug Policy Alliance has sponsored and supported some of the nation’s most progressive drug policy reforms in California. Learn about the work of our California team and how you can help support their efforts to create effective drug policies in the golden state.

Our Campaigns

Marijuana Reform
Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition have affected millions of Californians. DPA played a key role in passing Prop 64, which legalizes the adult use of marijuana in the nation's most populous state and focuses on undoing the most egregious harms of marijuana prohibition.

If you have a criminal conviction for marijuana, you may be eligible to change your record or get resentenced. Find out how to change your record under Prop 64.

Harm Reduction
DPA is working to reduce the harms associated with drug use in California. Our priorities include expanding sterile syringe access, preventing overdose, increasing access to effective treatment and establishing supervised injection facilities.

Criminal Justice
Drug arrests have led to unprecedented levels of incarceration in California, especially for people of color. DPA advocates for broad sentencing reform, alternatives to incarceration, protecting immigrants from deportation for drug offenses, reversing the negative impact of past drug-related criminalization and ending civil asset forfeiture.


Did you know you could get the opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone, in California pharmacies without a prescription?
Find a participating pharmacy


Engaging Latinos

DPA is working to engage Latinos in Southern California on drug policy issues. We are building unprecedented support for drug policy reform by engaging prominent Latino organizations across the state.

Recent efforts

  • Since 2012, we have been an ally of the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice, a group of activists who travel through Central and North America to spread awareness and generate discussion about the humanitarian crisis caused by the US-funded drug war in Mexico.
  • In 2013 and 2014, 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.
  • In 2015, DPA partnered with immigrant rights advocates to advance “crimigration” legislation, an effort to prevent deportation for immigrants who commit low-level drug law violations.

See our Spanish language materials


The Drug Policy Alliance is proud to support state and local organizations that are working for drug policy reform. Thank you to our allies in California. 

See our list of allies

Los Angeles Citizens Vote to Regulate Medical Marijuana

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.

Contact: Amanda Reiman 510-847-2405 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Legislación SB 649 del Senador Mark Leno, Aprobado por el Senado con más del 50% del Voto

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

Contacto: Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or Armando Gudiño 562-413-9003

California Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

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.

Contact: Amanda Reiman: 510-730-2811 or Tamar Todd: 510-229-5213

Sen. Mark Leno’s Bill, SB 649, to Reduce the Penalty for Simple Drug Possession Clears the Senate Floor with a 23-14 Vote

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.

CONTACT: Lynne Lyman (213) 210-1023 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Obama Administration Releases National Drug Control Strategy; California Advocates and Legislators Applaud the Emphasis on Preventing Fatal Overdose

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.

CONTACT: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224

Sen. Mark Leno's Bill, SB 649, to Reduce the Penalty for Simple Drug Possession Clears Public Safety Committee

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.

Contact: Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

CA Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Calls on California to Lead the Nation in Ending Marijuana Prohibition and Failed Drug War

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.

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

New Overdose Prevention Bill Passes with Bipartisan Support in California Assembly Health Committee

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.

CONTACT: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

California Must Resolve Racial Disparities in State Sentencing

April 3, 2013

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.

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