California’s Psychedelic Legalization Bill Faces Uphill Battle in Assembly: Will It Pass?

California's Psychedelic Legalization Bill Faces Uphill Battle in Assembly: Will It Pass?

A bill to legalize the possession of specific psychedelics and enable their facilitated use in California has encountered a challenging path towards approval in the Assembly, according to the bill’s sponsor on Wednesday. Senator Scott Wiener (D) expressed that although the reform legislation successfully advanced through the Senate, there are no guarantees of its passage in the Assembly. Nevertheless, he affirmed their commitment to making every effort to secure its approval.

Wiener explained that the bill faces complications as it has been referred to a second Assembly policy committee before potentially proceeding to Appropriations and ultimately to the floor. Although it might pass the Public Safety Committee on June 27, its fate becomes uncertain when it reaches the Health Committee. Wiener noted that the Health Committee has historically been a difficult hurdle, and he cannot assure a majority vote in favor of the bill there, as the committee’s favorability has decreased compared to the previous year.

The bill, which is a more focused version of Wiener’s prior legislation that was significantly weakened in the Assembly after passing the Senate, has advanced through an accelerated process allowing it to bypass certain committee considerations this year. It already cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee without a hearing earlier this month and had received approval from the Public Safety Committee in March.

The senator acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the bill’s fate in the Assembly, stating that they will do their utmost to move forward. When asked about Governor Gavin Newsom’s potential support if the bill successfully navigates the Assembly and reaches his desk, Wiener revealed that the governor has not expressed a clear opinion on the matter.

Wiener also expressed doubts regarding the prospects of broader drug decriminalization beyond psychedelics in the current political climate. Despite personally supporting such policy changes, he stated that there is insufficient appetite for such reforms within the legislature.

Responding to concerns about potential setbacks in the Assembly, Wiener reassured attendees at the Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council event that he remains committed to advocating for this policy reform and will continue to fight for its passage.

SB 58 Goals

The proposed SB 58 aims to legalize the possession, preparation, acquisition, transfer, and transportation of specified amounts of psychedelics, such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and mescaline, for personal use or facilitated use. Notably, synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA would not be legalized under this bill, unlike the previous version of Wiener’s legislation. Additionally, the bill includes provisions for “group counseling and community-based healing” involving these substances.

Furthermore, the bill seeks to repeal the state law that prohibits the possession of spores or mycelium capable of producing magic mushrooms aka shrooms or other materials containing psilocybin or psilocyn. It also eliminates the state ban on drug paraphernalia related to the covered substances.

Compared to the previous version of the bill, two significant changes have been made. Firstly, synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA have been excluded from the list of substances to be legalized, focusing solely on those derived from plants or fungi. Secondly, the current bill no longer includes a provision mandating a study to explore future reforms, as Senator Wiener deemed it unnecessary given the extensive existing research on psychedelics.

The bill specifies possession limits for various psychedelics, including 2 grams for DMT, 15 grams for ibogaine, and 2 grams of psilocybin or psilocyn, or up to 4 ounces of a plant or fungi containing psilocybin or psilocyn.

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