A Senate committee in California has advanced legislation that would legalize possession and facilitated use of certain psychedelics like psilocybin and DMT.
Though not the first effort, a California Senate committee has now approved a bill to legalize possession and facilitated use of several psychedelic substances.
Sen. Scott Wiener (D) last refiled the bill back in December of 2022, after it was essentially derailed late in the 2022 session.
The measure would legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of” specific amounts of psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal or facilitated use. Notably, “synthetic” psychedelics like LSD and MDMA would not be legalized, unlike the provisions of the previous version of Wiener’s legislation.
It would also repeal state law prohibiting “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contain psilocybin or psilocyn.” The state ban on drug paraphernalia for the covered substances would also be repealed under the legislation.
“Decriminalizing psychedelics is not particularly controversial among people. Oregon voters & Colorado voters have already decriminalized them. Various cities in CA & elsewhere have passed ordinances advocating for decriminalization. It’s time for CA to move in this direction.” Senator Weiner stated.
Note that it excludes synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA from the list of substances that would be legalized and focuses only on those that are derived from plants or fungi. That aligns the legislation more closely with the bulk of local psychedelic decriminalization measures that have been enacted in cities across the U.S. in recent years.
“Listen, I would love to have them included. I think they should be included,” Wiener said. “But we also need to be able to pass a good bill. And, unfortunately, there are a lot of stereotypes about LSD and MDMA, and so we decided, let’s get it passed for non-synthetics—which will still be a major game changer with psilocybin, ibogaine, ayahuasca and others—and then we can come back later to address synthetics.”
Peyote is also excluded from the bill’s legalized substances list, which is responsive to concerns raised by some advocates and indigenous groups about the risks of over-harvesting the vulnerable cacti that’s been ceremonially used.
The “allowable amount” section of the bill prescribes the following psychedelics possession limits:
Psilocybin—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocybin”
Psilocyn—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocyn.”
Beside personal possession being legalized, the bill would also specifically provide for “group counseling and community-based healing” involving the entheogenic substances.
“These are not addictive drugs. And these are drugs that have significant potential in helping people to navigate and to become healthy who are experiencing mental health, challenges substance use challenges,” Wiener said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Agenda items coming from both sides of the aisle
A second, separate bill sponsored by Assembly member Marie Waldron (R) was introduced in February to legalize psychedelics-assisted therapy specifically for military veterans.
It would allow licensed clinical counselors to administer substances such as: psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and ibogaine to veterans for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, or addiction.
Patients who receive the treatment would need to go through a minimum of 30 sessions with each lasting a minimum of 12 hours, and at least two counselors present for each session.
Incredible leaps have been made in terms of psychedelics policy reform in 2023. More than dozen states throughout the United States are taking strides towards decriminalizing – or even legalizing – multiple psychedelic substances like ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin. Even more remarkable is that lawmakers seem to be gaining an increasing openness when it comes to exploring the therapeutic advantages these drugs can provide.