California Senator Gives Up Psychedelics Reform Push For 2022 After Bill Gutted By Key Committee

California Senator Gives Up Psychedelics Reform Push For 2022 After Bill Gutted By Key Committee

A California senator announced on Friday that he will no longer pursue plans to enact his psychedelics reform bill this year after a key committee removed major provisions this week that would have legalized possession of substances like psilocybin, LSD, DMT and MDMA for people over the age of 21.

On Thursday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced the Senate-passed legislation from Sen. Scott Wiener (D), but significantly scaled it back so it would merely direct state officials to conduct a study of potential future psychedelics policy reforms—taking out its main criminal justice provisions.

“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,” Wiener said in a press release. “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,” the lawmaker said. “Psychedelic drugs, which are not addictive, have incredible promise when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. We are not giving up.”

 

The legislation had already passed the Senate and moved through two Assembly committees, but it was placed on hold last year to build support before coming up in the Appropriations panel on Thursday. It turns out that even with many months of work, there was still not enough support on the committee to advance the bill with its main provisions intact.

As it stands now, the legislation, SB 519, would merely direct the state Department of Public Health to establish a working group to study and make recommendations regarding future psychedelics reform.

Brief and vague comments made by the panel’s chairman at the Thursday hearing—who simply said the bill was being “passed as amended to retain the Department of Public Health study”—left many reporters and advocates, including Wiener himself, confused about what form the legislation was advancing in.

 

The language of the amended bill is still not yet publicly available, but a Wiener staffer told Marijuana Moment that he won’t push to enact it as such and will instead try again to pass a broad legalization measure next year.

The senator told Marijuana Moment late last year that he felt the far-reaching measure had a “50/50” chance of being enacted into law in 2022.

There’s been some tension within the psychedelics advocacy community over the proposal, which was previously amended to include possession limits and remove ketamine from the list of substances that would no longer be criminalized.

Decriminalize Nature (DN), which has been behind a number of local psychedelics decriminalization measures in recent years, was opposed to SB 519 in its form heading into Thursday’s key vote, with the organization specifically taking issue with the proposed possession limits.

“As a society, we must stand watch and oppose any process where corporate interests attempt to seize control of something that belongs ‘to the people,’ DN said in a statement last month.

These are the prescribed limits for personal possession that would have been legalized under the bill:

-2 grams of DMT

-15 grams of ibogaine

-0.01 grams of LSD

-4 grams of mescaline

-2 grams of the controlled substance psilocybin or 4 ounces of a plant or fungi containing the controlled substance psilocybin.

-2 grams of the controlled substance psilocyn or 4 ounces of a plant or fungi containing the controlled substance of psilocyn

-4 grams of MDMA.

For his part, Wiener has said that he understands the concerns, while arguing that imposing possession limits was a necessary compromise to ensure that the legislation gets enough support to be enacted in the legislature.

Other advocates have also pointed out that while personal possession limits would have been imposed under the revised language, facilitators could have aggregate amounts for group use, meaning they could possess the allowable amount for each individual involved in a ceremony. And when it comes to personal cultivation, there would not have been any limits.

For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would have repealed provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.