SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 24, 2023) – Today, the California Senate passed a bill that would legalize several naturally-occurring psychedelic drugs, including “magic mushrooms.” Enactment of this legislation would set the foundation for people to nullify the federal prohibition on the same.
Sen. Scott Weiner (D) filed Senate Bill 58 (SB58) for the 2023 legislative session. The legislation 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. The bill also specifically provides for “group counseling and community-based healing” involving the entheogenic substances.
The bill would also repeal the state law banning “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 eliminated under the legislation.
On May 1, the Senate Appropriations Committee ordered the bill to the Senate floor through Senate Rule 28.8. This rule allows the Appropriations Committee chair to make a determination that a bill will not impose any significant costs to the state and send it to the Senate floor without a hearing. The Senate Committee on Public Safety previously passed SB58 by a 3-1 vote. Today, the full Senate passed the bill by a vote of 21-16.
SB58 is a revised version of a bill that passed the California Senate in 2022 but was derailed in the House by intense law enforcement lobbying. Last year’s legislation included some synthetic psychedelics including LSD and MDMA. These were not included in SB58.
Werner told Marijuana Moment the legalization of psychedelics “is not controversial among regular people.”
“People understand that psychedelics are not causing problems—and they are, in fact, helping people and so it’s time to stop criminalizing them.”
“This is a tremendously hopeful step for veterans and all those who wish to benefit from psychedelics to heal from PTSD, anxiety, and depression, or simply to improve their well-being,” Wiener said in a press release on Wednesday. “We came extremely close to decriminalizing these promising treatments in the last legislative session, and after deep engagement with stakeholders, we made changes to limit our proposal to naturally occurring substances and retain quantity limits to ensure these five naturally-occurring substances are for personal use only.”
Efforts to legalize psychedelics in California follow a successful ballot measure that decriminalized a number of drugs, including heroin and cocaine in Oregon. In 2022, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure decriminalizing several naturally occurring psychedelic substances. At least 14 cities including Detriot Michigan have decriminalized “magic mushrooms.”
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
Psychedelic decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local levels are moving forward despite the federal government’s prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of many of the drugs on SB519’s decriminalization list and heavily regulates others. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
In effect, the passage of SB58 would end criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of these drugs in California. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with other drugs.
SB58 will move to the Assembly for further consideration.
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