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California could be the next state in legalizing psychedelics

Posted by Sara Cooper | Sep 12, 2023 | 0 Comments

A bill that would decriminalize and legalize psychedelics including ‘magic mushrooms' is on its potential way to become an actual law, with support groups in hopes of Governor Newsom signing it.

Last week, the bill was approved by the California Senate that would permit people that are 21 years old and above to use certain psychedelics and if passed, this law will go into effect in 2025 that makes possessing and growing plants legal such as psychedelic mushrooms.

Newsom has not responded on his position with legalized psychedelics, but he has known to be an advocate on criticizing the war on drugs and being pro-cannabis; this includes reducing nonviolent offenses like drug crimes that the governor has spoken about, making felonies change to misdemeanors or even charges dismissed. Though, he has vetoed a bill that would have a few cities in the state allowed to operate supervised drug-consumption sites as an approach of fighting the overdose epidemic.

“We respect the legislative process and don't typically comment on pending legislation,” a Newsom spokesperson told Marijuana Moment on Thursday. “The governor will evaluate the bill on its merits when it reaches his desk.”

The veteran population has grand interest in this bill, with studies showing how psychedelics can bring assistance healthwise towards mental illnesses.

“We hope that Governor Newsom agrees that veterans should not be criminalized for seeking healing through psychedelic substances and signs this bill into law,” Jesse Gould, former Army ranger and founder of veterans advocacy group Heroic Hearts Project, told The Intercept in a statement.

According to the Intercept, he added that the U.S. has a long way to go in supporting treatment for military veterans.

“We hope that more politicians step up to the plate and back their words of supporting the troops with real action. With the veteran suicide epidemic, veterans do not have the luxury of time to wait.”

Jon Kostas of the Apollo Pact, a group dedicated to making psychedelic-assisted treatments more accessible, argues that going through national avenues like the Food and Drug Administration would prove more effective than legalization in getting psychedelics to those who need it. According to the Intercept, “Kostas was the first participant in a New York University clinical trial treating alcohol use disorder with psilocybin-assisted therapy. He credits the therapy with curing his alcoholism and saving his life.”

“If they really want people to get access to it, if they really want to make these therapies affordable, the best way to do this is going through a federal level so insurance covers this,” Kostas said. “I'd love to see Medicare or Medicaid cover this. I'd love to see the VA cover this. And you're not going to get that by legalizing this for recreational use.”

Colorado and Oregon are so far the only states to have full legalization of mushrooms. In Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., introduced an amendment in 2019 to expand research into psychedelics but was shut down by a majority of Democrats and nearly all Republicans. Collaboration between Ocasio-Cortez and Dan Crenshaw for legalization occurred last year with increasing military spending on psychedelic treatments to veterans and members on active duty, along with more funding for further research on psychedelic substances. Last summer, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched a number of clinical trials involving psychedelic drugs, which have shown promise in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The California bill names four substances: psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, and mescaline. 

Decriminalization is the main purpose of the bill, legalizing noncommerical, recreational use and beyond individual reasons including group community-based healing and harm reduction. The bill directs the state's health and human services agency to create a working group that would make recommendations about the use of the substances in a therapeutic setting before legalization commences in 2025.

The bill would also allow Californians to plant and harvest an “allowable amount” of the legalized psychedelics: up to 4 grams of mescaline; 1 gram of DMT; and 1 gram of, or up to 1 ounce of a plant or fungi containing, either psilocybin or psilocin.

The bill does include some restrictions: It would make it a misdemeanor for adults to possess psychedelics on school grounds while school is in session and would fine and/or imprison those who knowingly give the substances to minors.

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