A new California law would decriminalize psychedelics — but not all
In the everlasting words of Aaliyah, if you don’t succeed the first time, dust yourself off and try again.
That’s exactly what California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) did this week when he again introduced legislation to effectively decriminalize the “possession, manufacture, receipt, transmission as directed, or transportation” of a handful of naturally occurring hallucinogens : Psilocybin, DMT, Ibogaine and Mescaline (not derived from peyote).
The bill also establishes “permitted amounts” of these substances that adults can possess: 2 grams of DMT; 15 grams of ibogaine; 2 grams – or up to 4 ounces – of a plant or mushroom that contains psilocybin or psilocin.”
“The decriminalization of psychedelics is not particularly controversial among people,” Wiener wrote on Twitter. “Different cities in [California] & elsewhere have enacted ordinances promoting decriminalization. It’s time for CA to move in that direction.”
The new law, SB 58, follows a separate law introduced by Wiener, SB 519. He passed the law in August after his peers struck down its main provision — decriminalizing psychedelics — in committee.
Read on to learn what’s different in the new bill, who supports it, and what’s next.
Where are Psychedelics Legal or Decriminalized in the US?
The sale of psychedelics would remain illegal
While State Senator Wiener’s bill allows for personal use and possession, it does not permit the sale of these naturally occurring psychedelics.
Additionally, by establishing allowable quantities, it effectively bans the “gift” model for retail cannabis and shrooms that is currently thriving in Washington, DC.
In recent weeks, law enforcement agencies have shut down a number of illegal mushroom dealers in the US and Canada as local enthusiasts tested the limits of city-wide or statewide psychedelics decriminalization laws.
Because of this, the police are raiding psychedelic mushroom stores in major cities
No LSD or MDMA, no required study
SB 58 contains two major differences from its predecessor:
First, it removes LSD and MDMA from its list of affected substances to focus instead on naturally occurring entheogens.
“Listen, I’d like to have you with me. I think they should be included,” Wiener told Marijuana Moment. “But we also need to be able to pass a good bill. And unfortunately, there are a lot of clichés about LSD and MDMA, and so we decided to let it pass as non-synthetic – which will still be a huge game changer with psilocybin, ibogaine, ayahuasca and others – and then we can come you come back later to deal with plastics.”
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Second, the state no longer needs to conduct a study to examine subsequent policy reforms. In committee, Wiener’s colleagues hollowed out his previous bill so that it only required such a study and didn’t actually decriminalize psychedelics.
Lots of support from inside and outside the state parliament
Wiener wrote the bill with a handful of his colleagues in the California Legislature, indicating some momentum has already been building.
According to a press release from Senator Wiener’s office, this group includes Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and Members of Parliament Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles), Alex Lee (D-Fremont) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland).
It also names convener Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) as a primary co-author.
Team Psychedelics – veterans and healthcare providers – stand ready to decriminalize these life-saving substances for Californians. Let’s go! pic.twitter.com/pNl5pYUZP2
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) December 19, 2022
As Wiener’s press release explains, SB 58 has found additional support from a number of sources, including advocacy organizations like the Heroic Hearts Project, which provides veterans with access to therapeutic treatment using psychedelics, medical professionals, and at least one former law enforcement officer.
“Psychedelics represent the single most important breakthrough in mental health treatment in our lives,” said Dr. Nathaniel Mills, clinical director of the Sacramento Institute, in the senator’s press release. “The decriminalization of these drugs will create opportunities for cures for the people who need them most.”
What happens next to SB 58?
In his interview with Marijuana Moment, Senator Wiener expressed confidence that the assembly will pass the law next year.
Wiener said he expects a “very structured timeline” to move the SB 58 forward in 2023: Ideally, it would face a political hearing in March or April before moving through a series of committee hearings. Wiener believes the Assembly could pass the bill by September 2023.
“We have a really strong momentum behind the law, with our coalition of veterans, parents and other advocates who understand the significant benefits these substances have for people, particularly those who suffer from mental health and addiction issues,” he said him during the interview. “So sometimes it takes more than one try, and we’re back at it.”