One step closer to legalization: CA Senate votes to decriminalize psychedelics

On May 31st, the California state Senate passed Senate Bill 519 with a floor vote of 21-16. The bill has already passed the Senate Health Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Public Safety Committee which gives it a strong chance of passing the House and moving to the desk of Governor Newsom.

Bill 159 would make lawful the possession, personal use, and social sharing of psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, LSD, ketamine, and MDMA by and with persons 21 years of age or older. There would still be penalties for possession of the aforementioned substances on school grounds or by those under the age of 21.

The bill was authored by California Senator Scott Wiener who was elected in November 2016 and represents District 11 which includes all of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City. Wiener’s primary platforms include affordable housing, improved transportation systems, increased healthcare access, support for working families, and addressing climate change.

Sen. Wiener claims that SB 519 is a rebuke to America’s “war on drugs” which has, in his opinion, failed to make us safer. “It’s time to move away from failed drug criminalization policies and toward a science- and health-based approach.”

Many studies now show the usefulness of psychedelics as treatment for countless mental health issues including treatment-resistant depression, PTSD and addiction.

While the bill would not legalize the sale of these substances within the state, a group called Decriminalize California has already announced plans to legalize the sale of psilocybin on the 2022 ballot.

Denver, Colorado was notably the first city to legalize psilocybin in 2019. Three cities in Massachusetts as well as Santa Cruz and Oakland, CA followed suit. Ann Arbor and Washington DC have decriminalized the use of plant-based psychedelics, and even conservative Texas has formed a committee to investigate the benefits of magic mushrooms as treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD.

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