California has taken a step in the right direction for psychedelic advocates, but not the one they were hoping for.
The state’s Senate Appropriations Committee voted to kill off a bill that would have legalized the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and MDMA. The bill, SB1499, was sponsored by Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) and co-authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D).
The bill attempted to give corporate interests control over the CA market, while outlawing personal freedoms and possession of multiple psychedelic drugs.
Although this is unfortunate news for those who support psychedelic legalization in California, it’s important to remember this isn’t the end of the road for legal psychedelics—this is just one step in a long journey toward creating an inclusive environment where psychedelic use can be safe and accessible.
On August 11, the Appropriations Committee of the California Assembly gutted a bill that would have decriminalized psychedelics in California. The bill will not be moving forward this legislative session as it has been pushed back until 2023.
The proposed bill sought to decriminalize the possession and use of small quantities of certain psychoactive substances like psilocybin, LSD, DMT and MDMA for adults. It was arranged in such a way as to only approve state-led studies of potential psychedelics reforms.
However, when it came time to vote on the bill, there were concerns raised about how it would affect people who were under 21 years old and those who had prior convictions for drug possession or sales.
In response to these concerns, Senator Scott Wiener (D), author of Senate Bill 519, announced on August 12 that he will take no more action towards enacting the reform measure.
“While I am extremely disappointed by this result, I am looking forward to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs,” says Wiener.
The Bill’s Revision
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Decriminalize Nature stood against SB 519, a proposal to decriminalize psychedelics in California. The advocacy group specifically addressed the August 11 version of the bill, which included possession amounts and removed ketamine from the list of legalized substances.
Specifically, Decriminalize Nature stated that “As a society, we must oppose any process where corporate interests attempt to seize control of something that belongs ‘to the people.’”
The revised language would have established possession limits for psilocybin and other Schedule I substances, and it would have repealed provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.
For his part, Wiener has said he understands the concerns while arguing imposing possession limits was a necessary compromise to ensure the legislation gets enough support to be enacted in the legislature.
Other advocates have also pointed out while personal possession limits would have been imposed under the revised language, facilitators could have aggregate amounts for group use.
Wiener’s original bill, while not available publicly, included provisions for decriminalization. Unfortunately, as it’s made its way through the government, it was stripped of many of its inclusions and essentially rendered the bill useless.
While it’s unfortunate the bill got pushed back until next year, we’re actually glad it was. The bill they would have passed would have been flawed and given corporate interests control over the CA market while outlawing personal freedoms and possession of multiple psychedelic drugs.
Our hope is Sen Weiner is able to get broad support next year for a better version of this bill that protects the end user and supports small business and equality.
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