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Senator Scott D. Wiener. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Psychedelic Drug Decriminalization Bill Gutted Before Crucial Assembly Vote

SB 519 now only includes conducting a study on psychedelic drug decriminalization, Wiener vows to bring back that part of bill next year

By Evan Symon, August 15, 2022 10:56 am

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.”

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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15 thoughts on “Psychedelic Drug Decriminalization Bill Gutted Before Crucial Assembly Vote

  1. I know! How about we gut this thing (SB 519) until it doesn’t exist anymore? That would be good. I mean, do you really want this pesky late-summer fly, Sen Scott Wiener, who has ZERO credibility, banging away every year at legalizing pointless and dangerous hallucinogens until we’re all dead? Which as you saw now have been revealed in studies to have actual addictive properties, denied in the past? He and his cronies need to DROP it —- we already know, without commissioning a “study,” that none of this is good for California or for any state, or for society in general. DUH! You know, just like EVERYTHING the man champions. The sob story about helping veterans, meant to weaken your resolve, is cherry-picked at best and total B.S. at worst. I think I’ll put my money on It’s Total B.S.
    Find your assembly member here to urge them to VOTE NO on SB 519 and its bogus (and likely very expensive) “studies” of hallucinogens and psychedelics:
    https://www.assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers

    1. I don’t get your comment about “actual addictive properties.” Here’s a list of the first 3 studies reported in peer-reviewed journals, from a Google search on “psychedelic addiction.” All are free to read. If you don’t have time to read them, I can save you some time: All these studies report the opposite of addiction. All of them report on specific psychedelics and addiction cessation.

      This is the OPPOSITE of what you claim. Where’s your list of studies showing these materials are addictive?

      Morgan, Celia, et al. “Tripping up addiction: the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of problematic drug and alcohol use.” Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 13 (2017): 71-76.

      Kvam, Tor-Morten, Lowan H. Stewart, and Ole A. Andreassen. “Psychedelic drugs in the treatment of anxiety, depression and addiction.” Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening (2018).

      Kang, Mark, et al. “Can psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy play a role in enhancing motivation to change in addiction treatment settings?.” Journal of Psychedelic Studies (2022).

      1. I was referring to what was mentioned in the Evan Symon article above:
        “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.”
        What is your stake in this? Why do you care so much to legalize these psychedelics and hallucinogenic drugs? Why do you only pop up on THIS subject and no other? Why do you need these drugs legitimized? Can’t you procure your own stash and be done with it? Can’t anyone if they are so inclined? Is there money in it to legalize or “study” it? If so, why not apply for private grant money and quit hitting up the government?

        1. That quote about “treating … psychedelic drug abuse” comes from a for-profit enterprise that specializes in taking insurance-claim detoxification money. They have zero evidence to support the claim (specifically about psychedelics) but plenty of pecuniary motivation to misrepresent facts and get more insurance money.

          The later quote about some people having difficult experiences with LSD is completely true. The same thing is even more true for alcohol, tobacco and many prescription drugs. It isn’t a legitimate reason to ban all access.

          Stake in this? Personal and spiritual freedom for a very large community within our state, decent care for serious psychological conditions, palliative care at at end-of life. The state should not be prosecuting people for their spirituality or for how they prepare for inevitable death.

          I accept that you cannot imagine how this could be true for someone whose life, though lived entirely in California, is completely different from yours. I also accept that for about a majority of Californians, psychedelics have nothing to do with spirituality. But do you really need the State to foist your personal beliefs on everybody? If the shoe were on the other foot, and the State decided to outlaw Bible reading or building churches or display of Christian symbols, don’t you think there’d be an issue with that?

  2. Wiener bill SB 519 must never see the light of day in the Sacramento. This is why I am running for State Assembly 18. We need people in Sacramento who are not going to be the puppets of the Uni Party and bow down to their degenerate culture. These drugs, along with all others are killers of the mind and body. In 2022 we should not have this bill and many others bills of this degenerate culture and green agenda. This must stop now. We are talking about human life. Mindy Pechenuk, candidate for State Assembly 18

  3. We are talking about not wasting human life to prosecute the most pointless aspects of a War on Drugs.
    You realize, BTW, that demographically your position on psychedelic plant medicines has zero chance of actually defeating Mia Bonto? Do you realize that Oakland is the largest city in your district and is noteworthy for having unanimously carried out precisely what SB-519 originally intended?
    Political messages ought to stay realistic and on-point for the target demographic. If your campaign is serious, wouldn’t your message get more traction in a Central Valley or rural district?

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