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California Senate Moves to Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms Under New Bill

A bill that was proposed on Monday, December 19, 2022, and supported by veterans organizations and mental health professionals would decriminalize the possession and personal use of some psychedelic drugs in California, including magic mushrooms and ayahuasca.

Senate Bill 58’s advocates assert that the bill is a step toward ending California’s “war on drugs” and that decriminalizing psychedelics could open the door to more effective treatment alternatives for people suffering from substance use disorders and other health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Law enforcement organizations, which have expressed worries in recent years about the potential threats hallucinogens pose to public safety, are expected to oppose the bill.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reintroduced the bill about four months after a previous version was shredded in a key state Assembly committee due to opposition from law enforcement and a handful of Democrats who voted with Republicans.

What Else is Included?

The synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA, also called ecstasy, that were previously included in the proposal are now excluded.

Only plant-based hallucinogens would be permitted under SB 58, including psilocybin, the active component of “magic mushrooms,” and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which is present in some plants used to make ayahuasca. Ibogaine, a hallucinogenic alkaloid found in the iboga bush, and mescaline, a substance found in cacti other than peyote, are two other naturally occurring psychedelics that would be permitted under the proposed legislation.

Progress in Science and Therapy

Senator Wiener is quoted as saying, “Psychedelics have a tremendous capacity to help people heal, but right now, using them is a criminal offence. These drugs literally save lives and are some of the most promising treatments we have for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction.” 

A number of California cities, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland, and more recently, Arcata, have already decriminalized the possession of natural psychedelics, and voters in Oregon and Colorado have recently adopted similar ballot measures. Mental health experts and other advocates who support the statewide proposal think that broadening the legalization of drugs would aid research and therapy.

Legislators in Oakland approved a follow-up resolution in December of 2021 that calls for the policy change to be adopted statewide and for local jurisdictions to be allowed to permit healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics. Oakland was the first city in the nation where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize criminalization of entheogenic substances.

Residents won’t have to worry about getting arrested if entheogens are decriminalized, making it safer to consume, give, gather, grow, and share them. Destigmatizing entheogens will encourage more open discussion about the therapeutic potential of psychoactive plants and fungi in the community.

Decriminalizing psychedelics, according to Dr. Sarah Abedi, an emergency care physician and facilitator at the Pacific Brain Health Center’s Treatment and Research in Psychedelics Program, can help eliminate the shame and stigma typically associated with mental health disorders and treatment. Abedi claimed that the bill might open the door for more psychedelic research and education to ascertain their efficacy in treating conditions ranging from opioid addiction to post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.

“Historically, some people seek out psychedelics for healing when other conventional treatments have failed them,” said Sarah Abedi. “Psychedelics can help bring material to the surface that needs to come up for processing, which helps people address the root causes of some of their health concerns. Through more destigmatization, decriminalization, education, and research, we can start learning more about these treatments.” 

Opposing Forces

Although narrowing the bill may help persuade some critics, supporters of the plan are still expected to confront public safety concerns, notably from law enforcement.

The California District Attorneys Association wrote the following in opposition to the first version of the bill: “Without more evidence that these hallucinogenic drugs are no more dangerous than cannabis, we cannot support legalizing them. Hallucinations can be dangerous to users and bystanders alike, and it is not clear that the benefit of legalizing these drugs outweighs the cost to the common welfare.” 

Decriminalization differs from full legalization, so in California these psychedelics would not be regulated similarly to marijuana. The bill would instead serve as a mandate that police cannot detain people for having or privately using small amounts of psychedelics. It would not permit the sale of these substances in dispensaries or at all. It would still restrict the sale of these substances to minors, and it would only lift the criminal penalty for small-scale personal possession or use of some psychedelics.

Final Decision?

After the Legislature reconvenes for the 2023–24 session in January, the bill will have its first committee hearing and legislative vote in the following spring.

But reform initiatives involving entheogenic plants and fungi are not just limited to California. In 2021, the Seattle City Council approved a motion to decriminalize noncommercial behavior involving a wide range of psychedelic substances, including the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline.

The Northampton City Council of Massachusetts passed a resolution in April mandating that no funding from the government or the police be used to enforce laws that make it illegal to use or possess entheogenic plants and fungi. Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics have also been made in Somerville and Cambridge.

Grand Rapids City Council in Michigan passed a resolution advocating for the decriminalization of a variety of psychedelics last year.

The Ann Arbor City Council has already decided that enforcement of the laws banning psychedelic substances like psilocybin, ayahuasca, and DMT is among the city’s lowest priorities. Recently, lawmakers followed that decision by designating September as Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.

Additionally, a local initiative to decriminalize various psychedelics will be on the ballot in November in Detroit.

We at Get Magic Mushrooms couldn’t be happier with such great news to start the new year off with! As each county, state, and country steps up to make progressive changes like this, a snowball effect starts to take place, and as the movement grows, the snowball keeps getting bigger and bigger. Please don’t forget to check out our online shrooms dispensary for great quality shrooms and shrooms products at great prices!

 

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