California Senators have just passed the bill decriminalizing psychedelic possession
California is getting closer to becoming the next state to pass laws that would loosen the banned stronghold against psychedelics. The Golden State Public Security Committee senators voted to propose a bill that would decriminalize the possession of many mind-enhancing substances by 4 to 1 on Tuesday.
SB 519 would decriminalize both the possession and use of psilocybin, psilocyn, MDMA, LSD, ketamine, DMT, mescaline, and ibogaine. Peyote is not included in the bill, the text of which states that the endangered plant is too important to Native American communities, who already have restricted access to the drug under federal law, to open up their scarce supply to the wider marketplace.
Individuals with previous criminal charges related to these drugs would have their records deleted. SB 519 also calls for the Ministry of Health to set up a task force to research good practices for a regulatory system and ways to promote equitable access, to be reported to the Senate by early 2024.
Although the bill decriminalizes all types of use of the substances, its text clearly states the medicinal value of the drugs it contains and does not prioritize for-profit retailing of psychedelics. The bill “does not envision a” cannabis model “or foundation for retailing psychedelics,” the office of the bill’s main sponsor, Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco, told Marijuana Moment.
Depending on who you ask, SB 519 could actually be a step towards legalizing the drugs in its scope.
“While the bill is described by lawmakers and advocates as simply ‘decriminalization’, the official legislative analysis of the proposal says it would ‘legalize’ the personal possession and social sharing of these substances,” writes Kyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment.
Regardless of the legal interpretation, the Viennese hopes that his adoption will push ahead with the further dismantling of the ban.
“People shouldn’t go to jail for possession or use of drugs,” Wiener told the Guardian when the legislation was introduced in February. “It’s a health problem, not a criminal problem, and I hope we get all the way there.”
The proposed bill isn’t the only effort to expand access to psychedelics in California. Under the leadership of Decriminalize California, advocates are collecting signatures to hold an election operation in front of voters in 2022. (An earlier attempt last year was dashed by the COVID-era restrictions on face-to-face politics.)
On Tuesday, the California Senate Committee also approved a bill that will allow the implementation of safe outlets for users of List I drugs.
Oregon voters approved two election measures last fall to legalize medicinal mushrooms and decriminalize possession of small amounts of all drugs. New Jersey also signed a bill in February that downgraded possession of small amounts of psilocybin to the criminal offense of a disorderly person.
Several cities in the US have already decriminalized magic mushrooms and other psychedelics. Denver and Oakland both have rules on the books, and Washington DC passed such laws in the fall election. Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, and the cities of Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts have also passed laws to reduce the criminal penalties associated with the plants.