WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO
Senate Bill 58, by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, would ensure that people are not arrested or penalized for using and possessing certain plant-based hallucinogens starting in 2025. The substances include psilocybin and psilocin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms; mescaline (except peyote); and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. A fourth substance, ibogaine, was scratched from the bill in a final round of amendments. This bill applies only to people 21 and older and does not legalize the sale of psychedelics.
The bill takes a more incremental approach for supervised medical use of psychedelics. It would require the state’s health agency to form a working group to make recommendations for governing the future therapeutic use of these substances.
WHO SUPPORTS IT
The bill is sponsored by a veterans’ group, Heroic Hearts Project. Combat veterans and retired first responders have testified in support of the bill, sharing their “transformational” experiences using psychedelics to help relieve suicidal thoughts and PTSD symptoms.
WHO IS OPPOSED
Registered opposition is largely made up of law enforcement groups. Mothers who have lost a child to an adverse reaction after they ingested hallucinogens have also testified about their concerns during hearings. They’ve pushed for the bill to include more safeguards, arguing that while these substances may promise benefits for some people, they also come with risks.
WHY IT MATTERS
If Gov. Newsom signs this bill, California would join Colorado and Oregon in decriminalizing psychedelics. The current movement to make these substances mainstream is one attempt to help alleviate the ballooning mental health crisis. Growing research portrays the drugs as a promising tool in helping people heal from various mental illnesses, including depression and PTSD. But evidence is still limited and no psychedelic treatment has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.