The following is a press release issued by the Office of California State Senator Scott Weiner:
The Senate passed Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 58, which decriminalizes possession and use of a set of naturally occurring psychedelics, including psilocybin, psilocyn, Dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine. The bill passed 21-16 and heads next to the Assembly.
This legislation follows similar, successful local efforts to decriminalize these substances in Washington, D.C., Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, as well as successful Oregon and Colorado ballot measures. In 2021, Senator Wiener’s psychedelics decriminalization legislation, SB 519, passed the Senate. It passed two Assembly Committees but then stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“This is a tremendously hopeful step for veterans and all those who wish to benefit from psychedelics to heal from PTSD, anxiety, and depression, or simply to improve their well-being,” said Senator Wiener. “We came extremely close to decriminalizing these promising treatments in the last legislative session, and after deep engagement with stakeholders, we made changes to limit our proposal to naturally occurring substances and retain quantity limits to ensure these five naturally-occurring substances are for personal use only. We shouldn’t be criminalizing people for personal use of these non-addictive substances. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to provide relief for the suffering of so many.”
Studies show that psychedelics have great promise in treating mental health and substance use disorders. In two different clinical trials, psilocybin was shown to reduce symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression. A John Hopkins study showed a decrease in depression and anxiety in cancer patients using psilocybin, and another showed promise for smoking cessation. In both 2018 and 2019, the FDA issued Breakthrough Therapy distinction to psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”).
Observational studies have also documented the use of ayahuasca (which contains DMT) and ibogaine as potential treatments for substance use disorder. There’s also evidence that psychedelics can help with smoking cessation.
Research shows the substances included in this bill do not lead to addiction. The U.S Journal Psychopharmacology found that in a peer-reviewed and controlled study of 44,000 Americans with a history of opioid use, using psilocybin was associated with a 27% reduced risk of past year opioid dependence and a 40% reduced risk of past year opioid abuse.
Research has also shown that decriminalization of psychedelics does not impact public health or safety. In 2021, a review panel under the Denver City Council reported that decriminalizing psilocybin in Denver has not presented any measurable public health or community safety risks. Since decriminalizing the possession of psychedelic plants and fungi in 2019, the Council reported a low number of arrests, and no known hospitalization nor emergency treatment data related to these substances.
For veterans, many of whom live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), access to psychedelics can be lifesaving. Veterans die by suicide at a rate of 1.5 times the general public. That’s why Veterans Affairs is studying psychedelic therapy, and why so many veterans are advocating for the decriminalization of psychedelics.
SB 58 is sponsored by Heroic Hearts Project, a veteran service organization. Heroic Hearts connects veterans to psychedelic therapy for treating complex trauma, and has become an international voice for veterans demanding effective mental health treatment options. Read more about SB 58 here.