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A Guide to Drug-Related State Ballot Initiatives






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California Proposition 36
The Substance Abuse and
Crime Prevention Act of 2000

Sponsor Campaign for New Drug Policies
(A Subsidiary of Americans for Medical Rights)

Authors Defense Attorneys Cliff Gardner and Dan Abrahamson


Californians United Against Drug Abuse


Mandates probation with "treatment" for all "nonviolent drug offenders" until their third conviction, then limits incarceration to a maximum of 30 days.

Releases all "nonviolent drug offenders" currently serving sentences from jail and places them on probation subject to same conditions.

Defines "treatment" as community-based drug programs which may include outpatient treatment, halfway house treatment, narcotic replacement therapy, drug education or prevention courses, or limited inpatient or residential treatment for detoxification, relapse, or "severe dependence."

Defines "nonviolent drug offenders" as those convicted of "unlawful possession, use, or transportation for personal use of any controlled substance. . .or the offense of being under the influence of a controlled substance."

Transfers $600 million from the general fund, not subject to annual appropriation by the legislature, for five years to establish a drug treatment trust fund, prohibits use of these funds for drug testing.

Requires annual evaluation of implementation of this act to assess reduced incarceration costs, reduced crime, reduced prison construction costs, reduced welfare costs, adequacy of the drug treatment trust fund (but not reductions in drug use, drug abuse, drug addiction, other drug- related diseases, or drug-related deaths).

Prohibits legislature from repealing the act. Allows legislature to amend the act by a 2/3 vote.



Proponents of Prop 36
Commercials   View proponents' commercials promoting Prop 36 to voters.

What Proponents Say
Proponents says Proposition 36 will send drug addicts to treatment rather than jail and will save taxpayers millions of dollars in reduced prison costs.

"If the measure passes, its impact will be revolutionary," Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, told the Sacramento Bee. "This is not a sort of incremental step. As a policy experiment, if you consider medical marijuana to be a 1 on the Richter scale, this is a 10."

  Opponents of Prop 36

What Opponents Say
Rand Corporation Study–The Rand Corporation released a study October 26, 2000, that suggests Prop 36 would save California taxpayers less money than its proponents predict. Prop 36 would place nonviolent drug offenders in treatment rather than prison but the Rand study says "relatively few of those offenders get jail now." In addition:

"There is substantial doubt over exactly how many will actually qualify for the program. Proponents claim 37,000 a year.

"Failure of the proposition to provide funds for drug testing is a serious flaw.

"The Prop 36 population may not do as well as others in treatment because of lack of motivation (jail or prison if they fail).

"The $120 million allocated to implement the measure may fall short of covering increased court and probation costs."

(San Jose Mercury News 10/27/00)

"The authors [of Prop 36] have noted in other forums that the language [of the initiative] expresses their philosophical opposition to drug testing. . .

"Drug testing is an accepted practice, and a useful tool for monitoring progress and compliance with a treatment program."

(From the Rand study, as excerpted by Californians United Against Drug Abuse, 10/27/00)

How California Drug Laws Were Re-written by Proposition 36


George Soros
Peter Lewis
John Sperling
Campaign for New Drug Policies


Alex Spanos
Drug Free America Fnd.



(California Secretary of State's Office.  Note:  Contributions made by Campaign for New Drug Policies are nonmonetary.  Figures are preliminary.) 

Details, Funders


Passed November 7, 2000.
For--5,565,672 (60.8%). Against--3,590,095 (39.2%). 100% precincts reporting.


Compared to other states, California ranks:
9th in past-month drug use
9th (tied with 1 other state) in marijuana use
5th (tied with 2 other states) in drug use other than   marijuana
4th (tied with 1 other state) in past-year drug dependence
6th (tied with 3 other states) in drug or alcohol dependence
(1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse)

Details, Use
Details, Dependence

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