California’s first ever legislative effort to legalize psychedelics for therapeutic and spiritual purposes is set to face a “challenging road” in the next stage of its journey. Senator Scott Wiener, the brain behind Senate Bill 519 which passed recently, has cautioned that the Assembly is likely to have a harder time than the Senate did. With Assembly members standing firm on both sides of the debate, it looks like this bill has a long way to go before it can become law. Stay tuned to find out what happens next in this thrilling journey.
1. Glimmer of Hope for Psychedelic Legalization in California
Psychedelic drugs are beginning to benefit from a remarkable shift in attitudes in California. After decades of strict regulation, new attitudes amongst legislators, including those within the California State Assembly, are now pointing to legalization. A bill that was proposed by Assemblyman Todd Gloria, AB-2586, would legalize and regulate psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin, for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. The surprising level of support for the bill suggests there could be a glimmer of hope that California will eventually legalize psychedelic drugs.
The proposed bill, AB-2586, would decriminalize the possession and transfer of psychedelics, as well as the structured therapeutic sale of these drugs. It also aims to provide funding for research into the therapeutic use of the drugs and give access to people with mental health issues looking to use psilocybin in a therapeutic setting. Supporters of the bill include:
- Caroline Blodgett, a psilocybin advocate, and
- Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS),
- Dr Phillip Wolfson, a clinical psychologist and veteran of psychedelic research.
These experts argue that psilocybin should be decriminalized so more guided therapy sessions can be opened and that the benefits of the drug in treating mental health issues have been greatly overlooked. If the bill is passed, it will be a major milestone in the fight to destigmatize psychedelics and recognize their therapeutic and medical value.
2. Senate Success: Passage of Bill Aiming to Legalize Psychedelics
In recent news, the Senate passed a bill that seeks to decriminalize the possession of certain forms of psychedelic substances throughout the country. This represents a massive step forward for the psychedelic movement, as the general public has been more open than ever to the mental and medicinal benefits of these substances, and the direction of legalizing them is now the norm.
For example, many of the substances under the bill’s coverage are compounds such as psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic found in certain mushrooms, and LSD, a set of synthetic chemicals with profound therapeutic properties. Leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to recognize their potential and are eager to pass legislation that supports the legalization of these substances for medical purposes.
- The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration
- The Senate bill seeks to amend certain penalty code sections based on the drug
- Lobby groups celebrating a successful advancement of the psychedelic movement
3. The Road Ahead: Assembly Passage Not a Sure Bet
Politics is complex and rarely a straight line – the road ahead for the assembly bill is no exception. There are many hoops to jump through for the bill to pass and become a law, and none of them are guaranteed. Even with the Governor’s support, there are still a few important steps that must be taken before the legislation is finalized.
At the end of the day, success lies in the hands of those voting members of Congress:
- The First Step – Congress will have to vote out the bill. After considerable debate and lobbying, the bill will either be approved or denied. If approved, the bill moves on to the next step.
- The Statue Vote – If Congress passes the bill, it will then go to the Senate for another vote. This is a key moment for the bill. If the Senate votes yes, it will be assembled into a Statue and sent to the Governor.
- The Governor’s Signature – If the Statue reaches the Governor, he/she will have the last chance to veto or sign the bill into law. If the Governor signs, it will become law. If he/she vetoes, the bill must return to the Senate and the entire process repeats from the beginning.
No matter who supports the bill, it won’t become law until it goes through the full parliamentary process.
4. California Lawmaker Warns of ‘Challenging Road’ for Passage of Psychedelics Bill
As California continues to pave a path toward legalizing psychedelics, a key lawmaker announced their commitment toward policy reform, accompanied by a warning of a challenging road ahead. Most stand in agreement that California lawmakers must introduce sensible legislation that prioritizes the health and safety of community members.
At present, state senator Scott Wiener, the bill’s primary author, cautions Californians to remain mindful of the uphill battle that lies ahead. He highlights potential roadblocks, including:
- Formulating policy specific to psychedelics – Lawmakers must find a way to balance the need for regulation and adherence to the criminal code, with the recommendation for minimal interference and support of community-based healing practices.
- Determining how to provide public safety – Psychedelics hold potential to provide public safety benefits, but related legislation must outline how to do that without exacerbating risks to those most vulnerable to harm.
Wiener is confident that, with due patience, constraint, and collaboration, California will find a way to create industry standards that ensure the safety of individual users as well as the greater public.
As California faces another historic vote to legalize psychedelic drugs, one lawmaker’s words echo throughout the Assembly: the road ahead is a challenging one. With both advocates of the bill and its opponents, the outcome still hangs in the balance and only time will tell whether history will be made in the Golden State.