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

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 2016 voter initiative that would legally regulate marijuana.

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.

Danny Glover and Director, Eugene Jarecki Will Hold a Screening of "The House I Live In," Winner of Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival in San Francisco on Monday, Sept. 24

Documentary Offers Poignant and Disturbing Look at Devastating Impact of War on Drugs on Families and Communities

Filmmakers Teaming Up with Advocacy Groups, Law Enforcement, Elected Officials across Country to Educate and Mobilize to End Disastrous War on Drugs

Lynne Lyman 213-382-6400 or Will Matthews 415-293-6309

Drug Policy Alliance and Langston Bar Association to host screening of "The House I Live In," Winner of Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival

Documentary Offers Poignant and Disturbing Look at Devastating Impact of War on Drugs on Families and Communities

Filmmakers Teaming Up with Advocacy Groups, Law Enforcement, Elected Officials across Country to Educate and Mobilize to End Disastrous War on Drugs

Lynne Lyman 213-382-6400

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs 911 Good Samaritan Law to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths

Thursday Teleconference: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Public Health Advocates, and Family Members of Overdose Victims to Discuss New Law and Best Practices to Ensure Effective Implementation

California Becomes Largest State in U.S. to Enact Legislation Aimed at Curbing National Overdose Crisis

Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs 911 Good Samaritan Law to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths

Law Encourages People to Call 911 During An Overdose by Providing Limited Immunity for Low-Level Drug Law Violations

California Becomes Largest State in U.S. to Enact Legislation Aimed at Curbing National Overdose Crisis

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug overdoses. The passage of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 472, the “911 Good Samaritan bill,”  received bipartisan support and makes California the tenth state in the country to take action to reduce accidental overdose fatalities by removing barriers to accessing emergency health services.

Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Bipartisan Support as California Legislature Passes Bill to Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths

California '911 Good Samaritan' Overdose Bill Heads to Governor Brown

SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, by an overwhelming margin (50 Aye – 20 No), the California legislature passed Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s ‘911 Good Samaritan Overdose Response Act’ (AB 472), which provides limited protection against arrest for minor drug law violations for anyone who summons emergency medical assistance to prevent a fatal overdose. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his decision.

Meghan Ralston 323 -681-5224

CA Supreme Court Decision Allows Localities to Implement Regulatory Programs for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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.

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

Drug Policy Alliance Names Amanda Reiman Policy Manager in California

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.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Amanda Reiman 510-847-9800

DPA Staff Attorney, Theshia Naidoo, appointed to San Francisco Sentencing Commission

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.

Tommy McDonald, 510-229-5215

LA City Council Votes to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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.

Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or 510-229-5215

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

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