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.

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

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

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