California Victories


Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) – In November 2016 California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 64, legalizing the adult use of marijuana in the nation’s most populous state. As a result, California will reap enormous financial benefits, and many people with marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies will be able to have their records cleared, freeing them up for new jobs and opportunities. The Drug Policy Alliance and its lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, played a key leadership role in the California campaign—co-drafting the initiative; coordinating the political mobilization, social media, public relations and more; and raising over $5 million to fund the effort. DPA will continue to help with the implementation of Prop 64 to ensure California has the most comprehensive legalization framework in the country.


CA Fair Sentencing Act (SB1010) signed by Governor Brown – DPA was the lead sponsor of this bill to equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine under CA law, authored by Black Caucus Chair Sen. Holly Mitchell.  Leading a coalition of 12 cosponsors ranging from the NAACP to the National Council of La Raza, we garnered nearly 200 letters of support from civil rights groups, drug treatment providers, legal scholars, faith leaders, drug law reformers, human rights advocates and sitting California district attorneys. DPA was solely responsible for the unprecedented support by the 4 DAs (LA, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, SF). DPA also worked with the LA Times to win their editorial board support. This is the same bill DPA has run unsuccessfully twice since 2004.

Sterile Syringe Access at CA Pharmacies (AB1743) signed by Governor Brown – DPA cosponsored this bill along with the SF AIDS Foundation that allows people to continue to be able to purchase sterile syringes without a prescription (the 2011 DPA bill allowing this sunsets this year), continuing a highly effective HIV and hepatitis prevention program. Our biggest win with this bill was lifting the arbitrary cap on the number of syringes people can purchase, thereby lifting the cap on the number of syringes people are allowed to legally possess. It was authored by freshman Assemblyman Phil Ting from San Francisco, and received unanimous support in the Senate.

Naloxone Access at CA Pharmacies (AB1535) signed by Governor Brown– DPA cosponsored this bill along with the CA Pharmacists Association, which will allow people to walk into a participating pharmacy and acquire naloxone and a short training on how to use it. Approved by the FDA in the 1970s, naloxone reverses opiate overdoses, and is key to our campaign to reduce overdose deaths, which are now the leading cause of accidental death in the US. It was authored by freshman Assemblyman Richard Bloom from Santa Monica, who also authored our failed naloxone bill last year; this year our bill received unanimous support in both houses!

Defeated Poor Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill (SB1262) – DPA worked with allies to first offer amendments and eventually defeat this convoluted and patient unfriendly bill sponsored by the Police Chiefs that still required regulations to be developed on the local level, named an uninterested and unqualified state agency to oversee regulation, and most problematic, denied licenses to anyone with a prior drug conviction. Unfortunately it is very likely that the Police Chiefs will re-introduce similar legislation in 2015.

Repeal of the Lifetime Ban on Foodstamps and Benefits for Drug Felons – Although DPA was not directly involved this year, we have worked on this issue for over a decade, and as recently as last year cosponsored an unsuccessful bill to eliminate this unjust ban. Our previous author, Senator Loni Hancock, was able to use her new powerful position on the budget committee to work this repeal into an omnibus public safety budget trailer bill that Governor Brown had no choice but to sign. The repeal takes effect in April 2015.