California Senate Passes Amended Psychedelics Legalization Bill

The California state Senate on Thursday gave its final approval to a bill to legalize certain naturally occurring psychedelics including “magic mushrooms.” The measure now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not yet indicated if he will sign the bill into law.

The legislation, Senate Bill 58, was introduced by San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener in December 2022. After receiving approval from the California Senate in May, the bill was approved with amendments by the State Assembly on Wednesday. The Senate passed the amended version on Thursday by a vote of 21-14.

Bill Legalizes Certain Psychedelics For Personal Use

If signed by the governor, Senate Bill 58 would legalize the personal possession, cultivation and use of the natural psychedelics dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline (except for peyote), and psilocybin and psilocin, the primary psychoactive ingredients in “magic mushrooms,” by adults aged 21 and older. Supporters of the legislation say that the bill would facilitate therapeutic access to the drugs, which have been shown to have the potential to treat a variety of serious mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance misuse disorders. The bill caps the possession of mescaline at four grams, while the limit set for DMT, psilocybin and psilocyn is one gram.

“This is a well-crafted, targeted bill to stop criminalizing people who are using these substances, including for health purposes,” Wiener told Marijuana Moment on Thursday. “I’m so grateful to my colleagues for their support, and I look forward to making the case to the governor that the bill deserves his signature.”

Bill Also Establishes Psychedelics Policy Study Group

Senate Bill 58 also tasks the California Health and Human Services Agency with establishing a working group to study psychedelics and recommend a suitable framework for regulating the therapeutic use of the drugs. The group would also investigate other issues surrounding psychedelics, including the safety and efficacy of using them to treat PTSD, depression, addiction and other mental health conditions. The group would also make policy recommendations on the safe and equitable production, distribution, access and use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.

“California’s veterans, first responders, and others struggling with PTSD, depression, and addiction deserve access to these promising plant medicines,” Wiener said in a statement. “SB 58 has prudent safeguards in place after we incorporated feedback from three years of deep engagement with a broad array of stakeholders.”

“We know these substances are not addictive, and they show tremendous promise in treating many of the most intractable conditions driving our nation’s mental health crisis,” he added. “It’s time to stop criminalizing people who use psychedelics for healing or personal well-being.”

Psychedelics For Mental Health

Clinical research and other studies into psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA have shown that the drugs have potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for serious mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, substance misuse disorders and anxiety. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was an effective and quick-acting treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.

Senate Bill 58 is now being sent to the governor’s office, but Newsom’s stance on the legislation is not known. He was a vocal supporter of legalizing cannabis and other drug policy reforms in California, but last year he vetoed a bill that would have allowed for safe injection sites. Representatives for the governor declined to indicate whether Newsom would sign the psychedelics legalization bill into law.

“We respect the legislative process and don’t typically comment on pending legislation,” a spokesperson for Newsom told Marijuana Moment on Thursday. “The governor will evaluate the bill on its merits when it reaches his desk.”

If Newsom approves the measure, Senate Bill 58 will go into effect on January 1, 2025.

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