California psychedelics decriminalization approved by state lawmakers
A bill to decriminalize possession of psilocybin and several other plant-based psychedelics in California is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. SB-58 passed on a vote of 21-3-16 in the state’s Senate late this week after a similar bill failed to advance last session.
BREAKING: Our bill to decriminalize personal possession & use of mushrooms & several plant-based psychedelics (SB 58) just received final approval from the Senate & is heading to the Governor!
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) September 7, 2023
If signed into law, the bill would remove criminal penalties for adults 21 and over who possess and consume small amounts of psilocybin and psilocin (aka magic mushrooms), DMT, and mescaline (peyote). The personal cultivation and transportation of these compounds would also be permitted. However, sale and transfer remain illegal.
State Senator Scott Weiner, who introduced SB-58, has been pushing the California legislature for psychedelic reform for several years. He points to the potential of the compounds in helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other people struggling with mental health conditions.
“California’s veterans, first responders, and others struggling with PTSD, depression, and addiction deserve access to these promising plant medicines,” said Senator Wiener in a press release.
There has been mounting evidence that certain psychedelics may help in treating a variety of ailments, from anorexia to substance-use disorder. More Americans than ever support regulated psychedelic therapy. According to a recent survey, over 60 percent of people believe medicinal psychedelics should be legal.
“We know these substances are not addictive, and they show tremendous promise in treating many of the most intractable conditions driving our nation’s mental health crisis. It’s time to stop criminalizing people who use psychedelics for healing or personal well-being,” Senator Wiener continued.
Advocates have praised the bill, but believe there is still more work to do in regard to restorative justice.
“SB-58 is an incremental win for everybody who believes that fewer people should be going to jail for cognitive liberty,” said Reggie Harris, founder of Oakland Hyphae and co-host of the Hyphae Leaks podcast, in a call with GreenState. “However, we shouldn’t stop here. We should continue to push to make sure that those who ended up facing the consequences of prohibition and the drug war should be free and we should be pushing to end the drug war overall—which means legalizing all drugs.”
Governor Newsom has until mid-October to sign the bill into law. If he does, California will join Oregon, Colorado, and a handful of cities across the country that have already enacted some form of psychedelic decriminalization.