A California bill to legalize the possession and facilitated use of certain psychedelics is heading to the Senate floor, under an accelerated process that’s allowing it to skip further committee consideration.
The legislation, from state Senator Scott Wiener (D), cleared the Appropriations Committee without a hearing, the sponsor told Marijuana Moment on May 1, after the chairman invoked a rule to send it to the floor because it would have negligible fiscal impact.
The measure, previously approved by the Public Safety Committee in March, is a more narrowly tailored version of a bill led by Wiener last session, which passed the Senate but was abandoned in the Assembly after members watered it down significantly.
SB 58 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 substances.
Notably, “synthetic” psychedelics, like LSD and MDMA, would not be legalized, unlike the provisions of the previous version of Wiener’s legislation.
Besides legalizing personal possession, the bill also specifically provides for “group counseling and community-based healing” involving the entheogenic substances.
It would repeal state law prohibiting “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contain psilocybin or psilocyn.” The state ban on drug “paraphernalia” would also be eliminated for the substances covered under the legislation.
The prior version of Wiener’s bill, in addition to having to formally clear the Appropriations Committee last session, also needed to go before two policy committees: Public Safety and Health. This year’s measure only needed to be heard in the former panel, in its expedited path to the floor.
The bill contains at least two key changes from the measure that advanced last session. First, it excludes synthetics from the list of substances to be legalized, focusing only on those derived from plants or fungi.
When the prior version of the legislation was in jeopardy near the end of the 2022 session, Wiener sought to make a deal to save it—by removing synthetics in an attempt to shift law enforcement organizations from being opposed to neutral on the bill. That move was opposed by psychedelics advocates and ultimately did not produce a passable proposal.
Peyote is also excluded from the bill’s legalized substances list, which is responsive to concerns raised by some advocates and Indigenous groups about the risks of over-harvesting the vulnerable cacti, used for ceremonial purposes.
The second major change to the bill from last year’s version is that it no longer includes a provision mandating a study to explore future reforms. Wiener had said that the study language was unnecessary, given the high volume of research that’s already been done and continues to be conducted.
The “allowable amount” section of the bill prescribes the following psychedelics possession limits:
* DMT—2 grams
* Ibogaine—15 grams
* Psilocybin—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocybin”
* Psilocyn—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocyn”
When the earlier version was moving through the legislature, it was gutted in a key Assembly committee to only require the study—eliminating the legalization provisions altogether. Wiener responded by shelving the legislation and holding it for 2023.
Meanwhile, a separate bill from Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R) was introduced in February to legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy for military veterans.
Specifically, it would allow licensed clinical counselors to administer controlled substances—including but not limited to psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and ibogaine—to veterans for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury or addiction.
People who receive the treatment would need to go through a minimum of 30 sessions, each lasting at least 12 hours, with at least two two counselors present for each session.
Advocates are optimistic about the prospects for Wiener’s psychedelics legalization bill this time around. Not only have California lawmakers had more time to consider the proposal since its original introduction, but there’s significantly more momentum behind psychedelics reform generally this session, as lawmakers in states across the country work on the issue.
For example, the Colorado House of Representatives approved a Senate-passed bill last week to create a regulatory framework for legal psychedelics under a voter-approved initiative.
The Minnesota House recently passed an omnibus health bill that contains provisions to create a psychedelics task force meant to prepare the state for possible legalization.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037.
In April, a Republican North Carolina lawmaker and a bipartisan group of cosponsors filed a bill to create a $5 million grant program to support research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and MDMA, and to create a Breakthrough Therapies Research Advisory Board to oversee the effort.
A Washington State bill to promote research into psilocybin and create a pilot program to provide therapeutic access to the psychedelic for mental health treatment is meanwhile heading to the governor’s desk following final approval in the Senate.
Also in April, a Nevada Senate committee approved a revised bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes. And the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to create an advisory council to look into possible regulations to provide access to federal “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published in April found that a majority of US voters support legal access to psychedelic therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
Photograph of California Senate chamber by Ben Franske via Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 3.0
This story was originally published by Marijuana Moment, which tracks the politics and policy of cannabis and drugs. Follow Marijuana Moment on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for its newsletter.