A bill that would have decriminalized several psychedelic drugs in California such as LSD, ecstasy, and psilocybin “magic” mushrooms was gutted during the weekend, reducing the bill to a single study through the most recent amendment.
Senate Bill 519, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would have “decriminalized” dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine (psychedelic substance), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline (psychedelic hallucinogen), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, molly) possession for personal use and social sharing. Strict limits on possession and the lowering of paraphernalia possession punishments would have also been put in place.
However, due to a lack of support in the Assembly, the bill was watered down to only include a study. Specifically, SB 519 will have the California Department of Health convene a working group to research and make a recommendation on the regulation and use of the psychedelic drugs listed in the bill.
Senator Wiener, who pushed the bill for the last year-and-a-half, lamented the bills gutting during the weekend.
“I’ve now confirmed that SB 519—decriminalizing possession and use of small quantities of certain psychedelic drugs—was amended by the Assembly Appropriations Committee to remove the decriminalization aspect of the bill,” said Senator Wiener. “As a result, the soon-to-be-amended version of SB 519 is limited to a study.
“While I am extremely disappointed by this result, I am looking forward to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs. Psychedelic drugs, which are not addictive, have incredible promise when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. We are not giving up.”
We've now confirmed that SB 519 has been stripped of its provisions decriminalizing psychedelic drugs.
We will reintroduce the bill next year. We are not giving up on making the case for this important proposal.
My statement: pic.twitter.com/ZhPbuFS2QA
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 12, 2022
SB 519 gutted, Wiener vows to try again for full passage next year
Ever since its introduceduction in February 2021, SB 519 has been heavily scrutinized and altered. Ketamine, which was initially included as a drug, was amended out last year due to its status as a major date rape drug. In August of 2021, the bill was halted due to a lack of support in the Assembly, with Wiener hoping that would change in 2022. Earlier this month, the bill was even saved from the suspense file. However, with many questions remaining, SB 519 only continued on after the amendments on Monday to study the positives and negatives of psychedelic drug use.
In addition, statements by Wiener saying that that psychedelics aren’t addictive have been challenged more and more by the medical community, with many addiction centers treating magic mushroom and psychedelic drug abuse.
“There are many wide open questions about decriminalizing LSD, magic mushrooms, ecstasy, and other drugs like that,” explained former police officer and drug counselor Marty Ribera to the Globe on Monday. “Some psychedelic drugs have been shown to help mental health problems like PTSD. But then again I’ve had so many people try LSD to help problems, but the associated trips and other side effects just made it worse. In some cases, it can actually cause PTSD in people. And being addictive. They generally aren’t, but then again, many psychedelics make you develop tolerance, which means a higher dose to get the same effect, which many like to call a ‘polite term for addiction.'”
“What did I say about there being too many open questions? But I think everyone can agree that the study part of this will be good. If there is a safe way to help people with these issues, especially vets coming home with PTSD who need help, then we should look for every safe avenue.”
“This bill would have decriminalized many drugs without properly looking into them first. It would be like backing up your car out of a parking space without checking your mirrors. It may be fine, but it also may cause even worse things to happen. We need more information and we also really need to check all these claims this Senator is making, because he has not been right with a lot of it so far.”
Senator Wiener has expressed that he will try again to pass a psychedelic decriminalization bill next year, saying on Friday that “We will reintroduce the bill next year. We are not giving up on making the case for this important proposal.”
The amended SB 519 is to go to an Assembly vote in the coming days.
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