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California And Psychedelics Decrim: What's Going On With Scott Wiener's Senate Bill?

Benzinga logo Benzinga 8/4/2022 Lara Goldstein
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State Senator Scott Wiener (D) has been pushing for the introduction of Bill 519 since 2021 when San Francisco joined other cities seeking local decriminalization of psychedelics. 

That bill is now set for further discussion in the follow-up meeting of the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the upcoming week. If the panel approves it, the bill would head to the Assembly floor for consideration. 

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The proposal, which would legalize the possession of “specified quantities” of certain psychedelics (including many of which are currently under clinical trials) by people 21 and older, has already passed the Senate and was previously discussed in two other Assembly Committees, bringing amendments and corrections to the original document. Nonetheless, the bill was put on hold in August 2021 by its Democrat sponsor, in order to build wider support.

 

In addition to legalizing possession, gifting and transporting specific amounts of psychedelics, the legislation would remove criminal charges for possession in adults 21 and older.

A reminder: while the original bill included record sealing and resentencing provisions, that language was amended by Sen. Wiener in one of the previous Assembly Committees.

Lastly, the bill would urge the State Department of Public Health to form a research group to make recommendations to the Legislature “regarding the regulation and use of the substances made lawful by this bill.”

If the Appropriations Committee passes the legislation for floor consideration and it gets to the full chamber, it would have to go back to the Senate to obtain the Assembly Amendments’ approval, and only then it could be presented to California Governor, Gavin Newsom (D).

A small recap of what’s been going on recently at the psychedelics legal battlefield

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee included psychedelics-as-treatment research as part of the spending bills for fiscal year 2023.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed a bill for the further development of psychedelic research as treatment for military members which was made in order in the House Rules Committee for the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

A reply letter on behalf of Biden’s Health and Human Services department acknowledged the relevance of further advancing psychedelic-assisted therapy’s potential in light of the ongoing mental health crisis.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has proven its growing interest in psychedelic studies, supporting 57 psychedelic projects with a total $34.4 million fund budget.

Both chambers of Congress have aligned and filed companion bills supporting the right of end-of-life patients to access psychedelics under the Right To Try federal laws.

Photo Courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

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