A California Senate Bill that aimed to decriminalize possession and use of some of the most commonly known psychedelic substances stalled Thursday and was slated to be reconsidered next year.
SB 519, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, would have decriminalized a lengthy list of substances for which Californians can currently receive charges, ranging from misdemeanor possession to felony imprisonment: psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine, mescaline, LSD and DMT are among the drugs involved. The bill initially included ketamine as well, which is already legally available in the state with a doctor’s prescription. However, Wiener removed the provision after opponents claimed the substance can be used as a date-rape drug.
According to a statement from Wiener, the bill was stalled in an effort to pursue further “education and member engagement.” SB 519 had faced stern opposition from both sides of the political aisle, with skeptics questioning whether the bill would increase unregulated, recreational sales.
“If it helps introduce these drugs to the street, then I am sorry, I can’t support it,” Democrat Wendy Carillo told Courthouse News last month.
However, the bill had already cleared the full Senate and passed through Assembly policy committees, moving ahead farther than advocates and skeptics had predicted.
Another bill Wiener authored, which would have set up supervised locations for the use of injectables, was delayed in early July by the Assembly Health Committee until January 2022.
The Bay Area traditionally has been a hub of psychedelic activism and research. As The Examiner recently reported, many psychedelic substances are tied to centuries-old spiritual practices — for example psilocybin and the Mazatec ritual of Velada — several psychedelic-themed churches in the Bay Area use the substances for rituals of their own. UC Berkeley launched the Center for the Science of Psychedelics last year, while UCSF has several ongoing studies on psilocybin and MDMA. Oakland also decriminalized the use and possession of “entheogenic plants,” or plants that introduce a non-ordinary state of consciousness, in 2019.
Now, Wiener’s just waiting for the rest of the state to get on the same page.