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Assembly Committee Passes Bill to Decriminalize Psychedelic Drugs

Proposed legislation to decriminalize plant-based psychedelic drugs received approval from the Assembly Public Safety Committee last week with a 5-2 vote, bringing the bill closer to an Assembly-wide vote.

Senate Bill 58, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), aims to legalize certain natural hallucinogens, including psilocybin (commonly known as magic mushrooms), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline. Under the proposed legislation, individuals possessing these substances would not face criminal charges, although their use would remain prohibited for minors.

SB 58 would also eliminate restrictions on the possession of psilocybin or psilocyn spores capable of cultivating mushrooms, as well as the possession of drug paraphernalia related to all decriminalized substances. Further, the bill defines certain thresholds, allowing for the possession of up to 2 grams of DMT, 15 grams of ibogaine, and 2 grams of psilocybin.

Senator Wiener introduced a similar bill last year that also included LSD,and that bill was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The new version of the bill has been significantly pared down, but is still deeply concerning. 

During the hearing last week, a coalition expressing opposition to the bill highlighted concerns about the potential risks and adverse reactions associated with psychedelics, citing instances where individuals have died. The bill’s opponents pointed out the absence of regulations establishing appropriate dosages and safeguards, particularly for vulnerable populations such as individuals with mental illness.

Similarly, Dr. Anna Lembke, the medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford University, urged lawmakers, according to the Modesto Bee, to vote against the bill, saying it “woefully underestimates the harms of these drugs while overestimating their therapeutic benefits.”

During a virtual event, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) acknowledged the challenges his bill faces in passing the Assembly in the upcoming months. The proposed legislation must pass two challenging Committees, and an increasing number of lawmakers remain hesitant about supporting the bill. “The path for this bill has always been narrow and remains narrow,” said Senator Wiener, according to the California Globe. “But we do have a path.”

California is already suffering from an opioid epidemic that has severely worsened the homelessness crisis. The last thing the state needs is easier access to harmful drugs. Fortunately, the bill is unlikely to pass.

“If this was a much smaller scale on a medical trial basis to potentially give this as a treatment to a certain group of people, this would have had far better luck. Instead, he is taking on decriminalization without the proper checks and you can just see support melting away. And there is still a long road ahead for this bill. This is not even close to being a sure thing,” said drug counselor and former police officer Marty Ribera.

SB 58 will soon be heard in the Assembly Health Committee tomorrow, July 11. Hopefully, the bill is defeated before it makes it to Governor Newsom’s desk. 



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