California Assembly Committee Approves Senate-Passed Psychedelics Legalization Bill

A California Assembly committee has approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize the possession and facilitated use of certain psychedelics.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee advanced the legislation from Sen. Scott Wiener (D) in a 5-2 vote, with amendments, on Tuesday—about one month after it was approved by the full Senate. It now heads to the Assembly Health Committee before potentially moving to the floor.

“These substances have significant healing potential, and there’s growing research showing that potential,” Wiener said in opening remarks. “Had the war on drugs not started in the 60s and 70s, we would probably be in a dramatically more advanced state around psychedelics—but the war on drugs, which criminalizes possession and use among other things, shut everything down and we lost 40 or 50 years as a result. We’re trying to reverse some of that damage.”

“Let’s stop arresting people for possessing and using,” he said. “And then we can build from there.”

Wiener said last week that the decision to refer his measure to the Health Committee means the the proposal is up against a “challenging road” toward passage. A prior version cleared the Public Safety Committee last session as well, but the senator said that he’s less certain about its prospects in the other panel this time around.

“The path for this bill has always been narrow and remains narrow,” the senator told Marijuana Moment following the committee vote on Tuesday. “But we do have a path.”

The bill was amended by the committee to delay implementation of the legalization of facilitated use of psychedelics until a regulated framework for that activity is developed, and Wiener said he will work with the Health Committee to “flesh out requirements” in that regard.

The bill, which was also lightly amended in the Assembly about a week before the meeting, is a more narrowly tailored version of a measure that the senator led last session that passed the Senate but was later abandoned in the Assembly after members watered it down significantly.

SB 58 would legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of” specific amounts of psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal or facilitated use. Notably, “synthetic” psychedelics like LSD and MDMA would not be legalized, unlike the provisions of the previous version of Wiener’s legislation.

Beside personal possession being legalized, the bill would also specifically provide for “community-based healing” involving the entheogenic substances. It previously included “group counseling” as well, but an author’s amendment that was adopted last week removed all references to counseling. It also made a series of technical changes to clean up the legislation.

The bill would also repeal state law prohibiting “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contain psilocybin or psilocyn.” The state ban on drug paraphernalia for the covered substances would also be eliminated under the legislation.

The proposal contains at least two key changes from the measure that advanced last session.

First, is excludes synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA from the list of substances that would be legalized and focuses only on those that are derived from plants or fungi.

When the prior version of the legislation was in jeopardy near the end of the 2022 session, Wiener sought to make a deal to save it by removing synthetics in an attempt to shift law enforcement organizations from being opposed to neutral on the bill. That move was opposed by advocates and ultimately did not produce a passable proposal.

Peyote is also excluded from the bill’s legalized substances list, which is responsive to concerns raised by some advocates and indigenous groups about the risks of over-harvesting the vulnerable cacti that’s been ceremonially used.

Under the second major change to the bill from last year’s version, it no longer includes a provision mandating a study to explore future reforms. The senator had said that the study language was unnecessary given the high volume of research that’s already been done and continues to be conducted.

The “allowable amount” section of the bill prescribes the following psychedelics possession limits:

DMT—2 grams

Ibogaine—15 grams

Psilocybin—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocybin”

Psilocyn—2 grams, or up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocyn.”

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