California Bill Decriminalizing Psychedelics Delayed Until 2022
California Bill Decriminalizing Psychedelics Delayed Until 2022

Bad news for psychonauts in California: Legislation which would decriminalize certain psychedelics for personal use in the state has been delayed until next year.

California Senate Bill 519 (SB 519) passed the full State Senate 26-16 in July and has cleared all its Assembly policy committees. Still, it is yet to go before the full Assembly for consideration.  

The senator championing the bill, San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener, said the legislation will now move forward as a two-year bill. “More time was needed to lay educational groundwork with members and public to ensure the bill’s success,” Senator Wiener said in a press release.

“Delaying full Assembly consideration of the bill until next year will allow the SB 519 coalition of advocates and supporters – which includes veterans who have used psychedelics to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), parents whose children overcame addiction with psychedelic therapy, and physicians – to capitalize on the momentum from this year while building support in the Assembly for next year.”

Senator Wiener added that he is optimistic the state will pass this critical legislation next year. “Decriminalizing psychedelic is an important step in ending the failed War on Drugs, and we are committed to this fight. Our mental health crisis is worse than ever, and psychedelics have shown great promise in treating mental health issues from PTSD to anxiety and depression,” he said. 

SB 519 would decriminalize the personal use of psilocybin, psilocyn, MDMA, LSD, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine, including in group counseling and community-based healing settings. It would require the California Department of Public Health to establish a task force to explore the future possible uses and legalization of psychedelics. It would also decriminalize the cultivation, transfer, and transportation of psilocybin or psilocybin-producing spores.

However, the bill does not decriminalize the sale of these psychedelics and it includes penalties for the possession of these drugs on school grounds and the possession by, or sharing with, any person under the age of 21.

The legislation notes: “The War on Drugs has entailed overwhelming financial and societal costs, and the policy behind it does not reflect a modern understanding of substance use, nor does it accurately reflect the potential therapeutic benefits or harms of various substances. Research is advancing to support the use of psychedelic compounds with psychotherapy to treat mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use disorder.”

If SB 519 becomes law, it would make California the second state in the United States to decriminalize psychedelics. This comes after Oregon legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin in 2021. Two California cities – Santa Cruz and Oakland – have already decriminalized the personal use of psychedelics. A third city, Arcata, is also proposing to decriminalize ethnogenetic plants and fungi, including ibogaine, ayahuasca, mescaline, psilocybin, and psilocyn.  

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