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.

CA Governor Jerry Brown Signs Two Life Saving Bills to Prevent HIV and Hepatitis

Syringes Can Be Purchased at Pharmacies Without Prescription and Areas in Need Can Apply for Syringe Access Programs Through CA Dept. of Public Heath

Most Important HIV Prevention Policy Change in California in a Decade

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two life-saving bills last night that will help prevent new HIV and hepatitis C transmissions in California. The two bills expand access to sterile syringes, which is by far the most effective way to prevent HIV and hepatitis C among people who use drugs. These bills will save lives and save the California taxpayer money. 

 

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384
Laura Thomas (415) 283-6366

Obama Administration Escalates War on Medical Marijuana Patients

US Attorneys in California Say They Will Shut Down Dispensaries, Prosecute Landlords and Seize Properties Notwithstanding State Law

Obama Administration's Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies

Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state law and leave medical marijuana patients alone, its attack on patients and providers operating legally under state law is rapidly escalating.  At least 16 landlords in California this week received letters stating that they are violating federal drugs laws and that state law will not protect them.  The four US Attorneys in California are holding a press conference in Sacramento today in which they are expected to announce a broad crackdown on medical marijuana.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Stephen Gutwillig 323-542-2606

On Saturday, California Counties Will Gain Authority to End Incarceration for Drug Possession

Advocates Urge Counties to Not Repeat the State's Failed Drug Policies and to Implement Health-Centered Approaches Instead

Theshia Naidoo 510-229-5214 or Margaret Dooley-Sammuli 213-291-4190

Brown's New Budget Prioritizes Jails & Prisons, Cuts Schools, Universities and Healthcare

Advocates Call for Permanent Cuts to Prisons Through Sentencing Reform

Poll Finds That California Voters Believe "Too Many People in Prisons" and Support for Lessening Penalties for Drug Possession

SACRAMENTO – In his latest proposal to the Legislature, reportedly already embraced by Legislative Democratic leadership and poised for passage by majority vote, Governor Jerry Brown proposes guaranteed funding to local governments for building jail capacity and hiring sheriffs deputies and probation officers to supervise low-level, nonviolent offenders at the county level.

Glenn Backes 916-202-2538 or Allen Hopper 415-621-2493

Bring Back Balance: Sentencing Reforms Save Money & Improve Realignment

June 26, 2011
ACLU of California, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Ella Baker Center

It's time to reform California's sentencing laws. Californians are fed up with misguided policies that have packed our prisons & jails, drained our state budget and led to one of the highest rates of recidivism in the country.

US Supreme Court Upholds Order to Reduce California Prison Over-crowding

Advocates Urge California to Focus on Resolving Crisis, Including Ending Prison as Response to Drug Use

9,000 in Prison for Drug Possession at Cost of $450 Million a Year

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Supreme Court ruled today in Brown, et al. v. Plata, that the unconstitutional conditions of California's prisons were caused primarily by overcrowding and ordered California to reduce its prison population from over 200% of design capacity to 137.5% of capacity within two years.

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

Marijuana Legalization in California

May 27, 2010
Jeffrey A. Miron

Should California, or the country, legalize marijuana? Miron says "Yes," and for a multitude of reasons.

Revised Budget Reaffirms Realignment, Leaves Out Sentencing Reform

Advocacy Organizations Point to Simple & Safe Reforms as Key to Realignment's Success

SACRAMENTO – In his revised 2011-12 state budget, Governor Brown today recommitted to his criminal justice realignment plan, but left out safe and simple sentencing reforms that would ensure that the plan is effective and affordable. The governor's plan keeps people convicted of minor felonies at the county level instead of in state prison. Advocates highlighted, however, that a key part of the solution lies in changing minor offenses from felonies to misdemeanors so that the punishment and its associated taxpayer cost fits the crime.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli 213-291-4190 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

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