Legal psychedelics are closer than ever to becoming a reality in California. Senator Scott Weiner has been trying to push a psychedelic bill through the California legislature for several years now, and the end is now within sight.
Weiner’s initial bill was unsuccessful. However, his second try has now made it to the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 58 has been slowly weaving its way through the legislative process for the past few months. This week, it made it through the last few steps before going to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.
The amended bill was approved by the California Assembly on Wednesday, September 6. A day later, the State Senate voted to approve the amendments— sending it to the governor’s desk.
If Newsom signs into law, the bill would decriminalize possession of several psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin and psilocin (the active compounds in magic mushrooms), mescaline, and DMT. The bill also sets up a framework for facilitating psychedelic treatment.
The original legislation would have allowed for immediate facilitated use. However, the bill was recently amended. The new version of the bill will create a working group that will create a structured framework for facilitated psychedelic use. These recommendations will be made by January 1, 2025. This is not unlike the legislation passed in Oregon and Colorado.
Gavin Newsom has 12 days— after receiving the bill— to either sign it into law or veto it. If he does not sign within the given time period, the bill will automatically become law. The governor has not commented on the bill. His position is unclear at this time.
Though two other states have passed similar laws, this is the first piece of legislation of this type to move through State government channels. Both Colorado and Oregon’s psychedelic legalization initiatives were pushed through and voted on by citizens.
California has always been more pro-psychedelics than much of the rest of the country. In fact, the psychedelic movement was largely born in the Bay Area. In addition to Golden State’s history with psychedelics, they are struggling with many of the issues that psychedelics have the potential to help with.
It is no secret that addiction, mental health issues, crime, and homelessness are out of control in California. Nothing that the state has done recently is helping to solve these problems— they just keep getting worse and worse.
Newsom is currently pushing through a mental health bill that would allocate over four billion dollars to addressing the mental health crisis in California. The money would go towards increasing healthcare capacity for those struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder. However, it does not help develop desperately needed novel treatments.
As legislative sessions come to an end, psychedelic advocates will be waiting eagerly for the outcome of SB58. If Newsom does veto the bill, it will need a ⅔ vote in the legislature to become law.
In a few short weeks, the future of psychedelic medicine in the Golden State will make itself known. California, a state known for its pioneering spirit, may soon pave the way for a new era in mental health treatment and drug policy reform. The world will be watching closely as the future of psychedelics unfolds in the land of innovation and possibility.