California is advancing toward becoming the nation’s third state to decriminalize psychedelics, following the state Assembly’s approval of a bill permitting adults aged 21 and above to possess and use limited quantities of plant and mushroom-based psychedelics.
Senate Bill 58, proposed by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) in 2021, received a 42-11 vote approval on Wednesday. This legislation would legalize various naturally derived psychedelic substances, including psilocybin and psilocin (key components in hallucinogenic mushrooms), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and mescaline (excluding peyote).
The bill also seeks to decriminalize personal possession and cultivation of these substances, and it plans to initiate “community-based healing” practices for group therapeutic usage of psychedelics.
Sen. Wiener shared his enthusiasm on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, regarding the bill’s passage. He mentioned that this was his second attempt, noting the failure of a similar bill last year in the Assembly.
“The Assembly just passed our psychedelics decriminalization bill (SB 58),” Wiener stated. He highlighted the support from veterans, first responders, and health professionals.
Proponents of this decriminalization emphasize the potential mental health benefits of certain entheogenic plants and fungi. Early studies from The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research indicate that psilocybin therapy may alleviate major depressive disorder symptoms for up to a year.
“California’s veterans, first responders, and others struggling with PTSD, depression, and addiction deserve access to these promising plant medicines,” Wiener remarked in a press release. He emphasized the non-addictive nature of these substances and their potential in addressing critical mental health issues, advocating for an end to the criminalization of psychedelic use for healing or personal well-being.
Nationwide surveys indicate increasing support for reforming laws around psychedelic drug use. The first UC Berkeley Psychedelics Survey found that 61 percent of registered voters back the legalization of regulated therapeutic access to psychedelics, with nearly half supporting the removal of criminal penalties for personal use and possession.
California’s move follows similar actions in Oregon and Colorado, which previously enacted legislation to decriminalize psychedelics. Oregon’s Measure 109 in 2020 and Colorado’s legalization of five natural psychedelic substances in 2022 were significant steps in this direction.
Before reaching California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for potential signing, S.B. 58 will revisit the Senate for final approval. If enacted, the law is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.