Despite his refusal to sign SB-58 into law, Governor Gavin Newsom called psychedelic medicine "an exciting frontier," adding, "California will be on the front-end of leading it."
California will not decriminalize psychedelics, after all. At least, not yet.
Despite SB-58 passing both the state Assembly and Senate earlier this year, with legislators voting to decriminalize possession of naturally occurring psychedelics including psilocybin, psilocin, DMT and mescaline, Governor Gavin Newsom decided to veto the bill on Saturday, citing concerns over decriminalization without regulated treatment guidelines in place.
“This bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign it,” Newsom wrote in his decision.
All is not lost for psychedelic reform advocates, however.
Governor Newsom seems to support California embracing psychedelic medicine with proper regulations in place, much like Oregon's approach.
“Both peer-reviewed science and powerful personal anecdotes lead me to support new opportunities to address mental health through psychedelic medicines like those addressed in this bill,” he wrote. “Psychedelics have proven to relieve people suffering from certain conditions such as depression, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other addictive personality traits. This is an exciting frontier and California will be on the front-end of leading it.”
He added, “California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines —replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, rules to prevent against exploitation during guided treatments, and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses… I urge the legislature to send me legislation next year that includes therapeutic guidelines. ”
Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat who introduced the bill at the end of 2022 and has been championing it since, seems to be up to the challenge.
“So for now, folks who benefit from these non-addictive substances remain classified as criminals under CA law,” he tweeted. “Our fight is not over. We’ll be back with legislation next year.”
Gov Newsom vetoed SB 58, our bill to decriminalize mushrooms & other naturally occurring psychedelics.
So for now, folks who benefit from these non-addictive substances remain classified as criminals under CA law.
Our fight is not over. We’ll be back with legislation next year. pic.twitter.com/Dehiz9mG0K
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) October 7, 2023
Despite the set back, it does seem that legal psychedelic medicine in California is inevitable as more lawmakers, celebrities, emergency service and military veterans speak out as advocates, while influential newspapers in the state support psychedelic reform, as well, all of which helps destigmatize these therapeutic substances that have been demonized for decades by the War on Drugs — something that Newsom himself has acknowledged as a failure.
The California governor ended his veto explanation with a commitment to work with legislators to “craft legislation that would authorize permissible uses and consider a framework for potential broader decriminalization in the future, once the impacts, dosing, best practice, and safety guardrails are thoroughly contemplated and put in place.”
A week before refusing to sign SB-58, Gov. Newsom did at least sign one minor victory for psychedelic drug reform into law, enabling California doctors to prescribe psilocybin, MDMA and any other Schedule 1 illegal drugs to patients if and when the drug is rescheduled to a lower tier in the federal Controlled Substances Act, or approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for an exemption.