A bill to create a psychedelic-assisted therapy program for adults 21 years of age and older under the supervision of a licensed psychedelic-assisted therapy facilitator was introduced in the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 1012, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) enacts two major acts. One, the Regulated Psychedelic-assisted Therapy Act, would establish a Board of Regulated Psychedelic Facilitators to license and regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy facilitators, to establish education, training, and other qualifications and requirements for obtaining a license as a regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy facilitator, and set what license fees would be.
The other, the Regulated Psychedelic Substances Control Act, would create a comprehensive system to control and regulate the cultivation, distribution, transportation, storage, processing, manufacturing, testing, quality control, and sale of regulated psychedelic substances for use in conjunction with regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Under SB 1012, only those 21 years and older seeking therapy would be allowed to use psychedelics, and only then under strict supervision of a doctor or licensed therapy facilitator. Personal possession and usage outside of facilities would be strictly prohibited, with those being treated being supervised to make sure that they have a safe way to get home post-treatment. The number of psychedelic drugs being allowed for therapy would also be limited, with the bill specifically only naming dimethyltryptamine, mescaline (other than peyote), 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), psilocyn, and spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms that contain psilocybin or psilocyn. All those drugs would still be illegal under federal law.
For years, Senator Wiener has tried and failed with numerous versions of allowing the usage of psychedelics. While psychedelic-based therapy for conditions such as PTSD have been known for some time, Wiener proved to be a bit ambitious in earlier versions. Such as a 2022 version where Wiener pushed for straight decriminalization and had a wider range of drugs to let people use, such as LSD and ketamine. Both Republicans and Democrats in both houses were up in arms. While lawmakers from both parties said that controlled therapy for certain issues, such as veterans needing help with PTSD, was about the limit on what they would pass, Wiener continued trying for decriminalization.
Decriminalization axed in favor of therapy only
His bill last year, SB 58, was continuously watered down, with more and more amendments taking away drugs and pretty much reducing it to little more than a study. While Wiener managed to get enough votes in both houses of the legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom ultimately vetoed it, saying that the decriminalization went beyond just for therapy usage. However, he, as well as many legislators who voted no on the bill, heavily signaled that they would pass a bill that was strictly therapy use only, with no chance of decriminalization for personal possession. Polls showing most Americans being against decriminalization for psychedelics only further hurt his case post-SB 58. Worn down by years of constant battles from lawmakers worried about even looser drug laws in California, Wiener, with the help of Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center), finally brought forward a restrictive therapy-use only bill on Monday.
“We know that Californians are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges, and we know that psychedelics, particularly when combined with therapeutic support, can be a powerful tool to help people get their health back,” said Wiener on Monday. “We know that California veterans and first responders have particularly benefited from these substances, and we know that many more people can as well.”
In follow-up messages on X, Wiener added, “CA faces a profound mental health crisis, with 1 in 3 people struggling with mental health challenges. While traditional treatment works for many, it doesn’t work for everyone & access is still limited. Too many people suffer in silence. For some, psychedelic therapy can help. Psychedelics show enormous potential. Peer-reviewed studies show big reductions in symptoms for treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD & bipolar disorder. The FDA labeled psilocybin a Breakthrough Treatment. Psilocybin is associated w/ reduction in opioid dependence.”
“SB 1012 creates regulated therapeutic access to psychedelic treatment. You’ll be able to visit a psychedelic treatment center & after making a plan & taking precautions, undergo treatment w/ a licensed facilitator, w/ follow-up care. The state will license these facilitators. It’ll take a little time to set up this new systems, but if the bill passes this year, treatments will be available in 2026 or 2027.”
CA faces a profound mental health crisis, with 1 in 3 people struggling with mental health challenges.
While traditional treatment works for many, it doesn’t work for everyone & access is still limited. Too many people suffer in silence.
For some, psychedelic therapy can help.
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) February 6, 2024
While there is still expected to be some opposition to SB 1012 this year, many former opponents to Wiener’s previous bills said this one finally worked through all the years of issues.
“Wiener finally, finally broke down on this,” said former police officer and current drug counselor Marty Ribera to the Globe on Tuesday. “We kept telling him to, you know, don’t make it a straight decriminalization. Don’t put LSD on there. Make it therapy only. Make sure a professional is overseeing it. And he kept trying to keep some of these pie-in-the-sky points in there.”
“And now look what we have this year. We have one bill, AB 941, clearly outlining psychedelic-assisted therapy. And we have this one, SB 1012, that sets tight regulations on when, where, how, and why this kind of therapy should be initiated. There is a very limited number of conditions where you can need this sort of therapy, and I think that teaming up with Republicans on setting those boundaries is why this bill is good.”
“And now look. He made it completely under the parameters of what Republicans, veterans, and Gavin Newsom said was acceptable to pass. This is Wiener, tail between his legs, after having failed so many times, making it how the others wanted it. This isn’t even a compromise. This is him defeated by common sense and medical studies of how this will best be used. We always said that this would be best for those with PTSD and other similar issues. And this is it.”
“This new bill comes after years of Wiener repeatedly being told no and finally listening on what everyone’s limits on this bill was,” Dana, a Capitol staffer, added. “Instead of a huge decriminalization bill, this is very focused on therapy only, and then for only certain things. No one is walking out with magic mushrooms in their pockets on this one, and it is still very much illegal to have them outside of these places for therapy. For most, it will be hard to say no on this now too, as he is really pulling on the veteran angle on this one. He even has some like Heroic Hearts Project as sponsors.”
SB 1012 is expected to be brought to Senate Committees soon.
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