California Senate Votes to Decriminalize Psychedelics

California lawmakers have passed Senate Bill 58, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that decriminalizes the possession and personal use of specific natural psychedelics, including psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms), mescaline, and DMT (known as ayahuasca). 

The bill, which is now awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision, aims to transform the state’s approach to drug policy and promote the therapeutic potential of these substances.

The bill received a mixed response in the state legislature, with the Senate approving it by a narrow margin of 21 to 14, with some Democrats opposing. However, it passed the Assembly with strong bipartisan support in a 42-11 vote.

Under Senate Bill 58, individuals aged 21 and older would no longer face criminal penalties for possessing or using limited amounts of these psychedelics. Importantly, it does not permit the sale or transfer of these substances in dispensaries. Instead, it focuses on preventing arrests for personal possession.

Advocates of this measure argue that it is a significant step towards ending the “war on drugs.” Veterans and criminal justice reform supporters have highlighted the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics in treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, often outperforming traditional treatments.

The bill’s passage represents a modified version of the original proposal, which sought to decriminalize MDMA and LSD as well. Lawmakers narrowed the focus to include only three plant-based psychedelics and introduced an age requirement of 21 to address concerns.

Newsom has until October 14 to make a decision on the bill. If signed into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2025, marking a significant shift in California’s drug policy landscape and opening doors to further research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

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