A bill that would legalize possession of several psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin “magic” mushrooms, was passed by the Senate Public Safety Committee 4-1 on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 519, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would make dimethyltryptamine (psychedelic drug DMT), ibogaine (psychedelic substance), ketamine (“dissociative anesthetic”), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline (psychedelic hallucinogen), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, molly) legal to possess for personal use and social sharing. Strict limits on who could use the drug would also be put into place under SB 519, penalizing those who are under the age of 21 for using drugs, as well as possessing the drugs on school property.Those with prior criminal offenses for possession and use would have also have their records expunged under the bill, with the California Department of Public Health to come up with regulations and therapeutic uses of the legalized psychedelics by 2024. Recent amendments have also added that possession of drug paraphernalia associated with psychedelics will no longer carry criminal penalties as long as they are owned by adults.
Senator Wiener authored the bill, which was first introduced in February, largely to help end mass incarceration that occurred during the war on drugs, as well as to increase scientific and medical testing to help those suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression. On Tuesday, he added that the intention of the bill was not to promote the usage of LSD and other drugs that would be decrminalized under SB 519, but to get rid of war on drugs-era policies.”By decriminalizing we’re not inviting people to use” said Wiener to the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. “We’re taking, instead of a criminal approach to drug use, a health-minded approach.”SB 519 is a step toward dismantling the failed and racist War on Drugs, because locking people up for drug use doesn’t work.”Despite many lawmakers and groups opposing the bill, the committee passed it 4-1, with Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) being the sole nay vote.In a tweet made later Tuesday, Wiener added that “Our legislation to decriminalize psychedelics just passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-1 vote. Psychedelics have so much promise for people’s health & well-being. We need to move away from a drug criminalization model & toward a health approach.”
Our legislation to decriminalize psychedelics (#SB519) just passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-1 vote.
Psychedelics have so much promise for people’s health & well-being. We need to move away from a drug criminalization model & toward a health approach. pic.twitter.com/DRmmU2Plbk
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) April 6, 2021
More opposition against SB 519 expected as bill progresses
More lawmakers and groups are expected to come out against the bill as it progresses in the California legislature. Many are expected to counter medical benefits of decriminalization with the social drawbacks.
“These drugs literally alter your mind and can make you see things,” noted former police officer and current drug counselor Marty Ribera to the Globe. “If it gets far enough, the big guns are going to come out, meaning a lot of witnesses that are family members or friends lost to these drugs or killed by someone high on it. It’s not like alcohol or marijuana, which are both very controlled with severe punishments for misusing them. No, these are dangerous right out of the gate and can cause permanent psychological issues. I’ve had people in their 70’s come in who are still affected from taking LSD and having a bad trip in the 60’s. This is very much different from current legal drugs.
“I’ll admit that there are benefits and that they are generally safer in terms direct deaths, but we haven’t had an entire state legalize this before for longer than a year. Some cities have decriminalized them, but nothing ever this large-scale so that we have data on it. Oregon only voted for this in November. We need to know what to expect and if it’s viable. There’s too much up in the air about it right now.”
SB 519 will be heard next in the Senate Health Committee in the coming weeks.