Bill to legalize psychedelics possession is approved by California Senate

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Californians could soon be allowed to walk around in possession of psychedelic substances without facing any legal repercussions. 

The news has emerged following the advancement of a bill to decriminalize certain types of hallucinogenic drugs.

Members of the State Senate approved Senate Bill 519 on Monday, May 31 with a vote of 21-16. 

SB 519, which recognizes the medical potential of psychedelic drugs, aims to decriminalize the use and production of mind-altering narcotics like psilocybin (the main ingredient found in magic mushrooms,) ecstacy and LSD.

Should California’s psychedelics decriminalization bill be effectuated, it would be legal to possess and share such substances across the state, which boasts one of the largest cannabis markets on the planet.

Before it can become law, SB 519 must be successfully voted on by the Assembly.

Psychedelics decriminalization in California: Task force to be created 

Senate Bill 519 was initially put before lawmakers at the beginning of the year. The California Senate’s attempts to decriminalize well-known “party drugs” like magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD and ketamine are indicative of the embracive attitude that cannabis legalization has brought to the state; not to mention others, such as Denver and Oakland, that have legalized psychedelic substances.

Another drug that is mentioned in SB 519 is Ibogaine — a psychedelic substance that naturally occurs in a Western African shrub called iboga. Commonly used for ritual and ceremonial practices in various African cultures, Iboga is said to help treat addiction to opioids and numerous other addictive substances.

It should be noted that SB 519 does not explicitly state that the aforementioned psychedelic substances should be decriminalized for retail sale. Nonetheless, this is not to say that advocates are not pushing for this outcome. 

In fact, a group of lobbyists who go by the name of Decriminalize California have confirmed their plans to include psilocybin mushroom legalization on the 2022 ballot. Whether or not it will pass remains to be seen.

Furthermore, SB 519 would stimulate the creation of a task force through the California Department of Public Health that would be responsible for investigating and developing recommendations on rules of the newly decriminalized psychedelic drugs; for the attention of the state Legislature.

While it has not yet been proven, a number of scientific studies have indicated that psychedelic substances may prove beneficial for relieving the symptoms of various mental health issues, such as addiction, mental health disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depressive episodes.

Psychedelics decriminalization in California: Bill’s author says psychedelics can enhance quality of life 

Psychedelics have demonstrated immense promise in assisting people who suffer from addiction, anxiety, depression and trauma, says one of the people responsible for authoring the bill, San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener.

He commemorated the bill’s approval as a significant step towards amending the narcotics-related complexities that police forces have imposed as part of law enforcement standards over the years.

“To everyone who made calls, shared, posted, told their stories: You did this!” Let’s keep up the fight & momentum. We need to end the failed War on Drugs,” reads a Tweet from Weiner following the passing of psychedelics decriminalization in California.

“This is a big step for this legislation and for our movement to end the war on drugs and to take a more health and science-based approach and to move away from criminalization of drugs,” the State Senator noted in an additional piece of video footage.

Prior to its Senate approval, SB 519 managed to fly through three unique committees. Now, it looks set to gain House approval, before making its way to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.