Magic mushrooms, DMT, mescaline and other psychedelic drugs could be decriminalized in California if a new bill from state Senator Scott Wiener is successful.
The San Francisco legislator introduced Senate Bill 58 on Monday after a previous attempt fell short, and it would make the possession and personal use of certain psychedelic drugs effectively legal. SB 58 is backed by a broad coalition, including combat veterans.
This legislation follows successful efforts to decriminalize certain psychedelic substances in Washington, D.C., Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, as well as successful Oregon and Colorado ballot measures.
The following substances are included in SB 58: psilocybin (magic mushrooms, psilocyn, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT or ayahuasca), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine.
In 2021, Sen. Wiener’s psychedelics decriminalization legislation, SB 519, passed the Senate. It passed two Assembly committees but then stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Research from top medical universities shows that these substances can have significant benefits, particularly for treating mental health, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Observational studies have also documented the use of ayahuasca (which contains DMT) and ibogaine as potential treatments for substance use disorder. There’s also evidence that psychedelics can help with smoking cessation.
SB 58 is sponsored by Heroic Hearts Project, a veteran service organization. Heroic Hearts connects veterans to psychedelic therapy for treating complex trauma. In the past few years, Heroic Hearts has become an international voice for veterans demanding effective mental health treatment options.
SB 58 is co-authored by Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and assemblymembers Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles), Alex Lee (D-Fremont) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland). Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) is a principal co-author.
"Psychedelics have tremendous capacity to help people heal, but right now, using them is a criminal offense," Sen. Wiener said in a statement. "These drugs literally save lives and are some of the most promising treatments we have for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction. We need to end the outdated, racist, failed War on Drugs and finally pursue drug policies that help people instead of incarcerating them."
Wiener's bill also has the support of some members of the law enforcement community.
"Removing criminal penalties for psychedelics will improve public safety in California, allow law enforcement to focus on the violent crime that threatens all of us, and it will give hope to first responders and many others that suffer from PTSD, depression by allowing personal use of psychedelic medicines for healing," said Sgt. Carl Tennenbaum, a retired San Francisco police officer.
Dr. Nathaniel Mills, the clinical director of the Sacramento Institute, said that psychedelics "represent the single most important breakthrough in mental health treatment in our lifetimes."
Courtney Ellington, executive director of One Vet One Voice, said in a statement that psychedelics helped her get out of "a dark place" because of severe PTSD.
Joe Burn can be reached at [email protected]