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California psychedelics bill that would bring ‘magic mushrooms’ into the mainstream fails – again

A person wearing gloves handles mushrooms.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms being weighed and packaged at a farm in the Netherlands.
(Peter Dejong / Associated Press)
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Another attempt to make psychedelics legal in California has, once again, failed.

Senate Bill 1012 by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was the latest attempt to bring psychedelics into the mainstream by legalizing psychedelic-assisted therapy for Californians. It stalled Thursday when Democrats who control the Senate Appropriations Committee culled hundreds of bills.

“We’ve been working for four years to legalize access to psychedelics in California, to bring these substances out of the shadows and into the sunlight, and to improve safety and education around their use,” Wiener said in a statement.

“We’re in a terrible budget year, where all bills with significant costs are at risk. Nevertheless, it’s disappointing for this bill not to move forward.”

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Wiener vowed to continue the fight, emphasizing the “massive promise” psychedelics have in their ability to help people heal and get their lives back on track. Veterans groups were among the list of supporters.

The total ongoing cost of the bill wasn’t entirely clear, but projections were in the low millions. The legislation called for creating three new government entities to regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy and determine who could become licensed to facilitate psychedelic trips.

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill to decriminalize certain psychedelics in California, including so-called magic mushrooms.

Oct. 7, 2023

The California State Sheriffs’ Assn. was listed among several opponents who expressed concern about the “government condoning and facilitating the use of mind-altering drugs.”

Some medical professionals questioned the scientific research behind the use of psychedelics. The California State Assn. of Psychiatrists argued in a bill analysis that “the evidence to support the therapeutic use of psychedelics is not yet robust enough to justify widespread access.”

The analysis by the Senate Business and Professions Committee also raised questions about the bill’s proposal to create a new category of licensed professionals to facilitate psychedelic treatment, rather than allowing people seeking mental health care to get psychedelic drugs from their existing providers.

It also said the legislation didn’t allow for local control in cities that might want to forbid psychedelic treatment businesses.

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Last year, Wiener sought to decriminalize the possession and personal use of “magic mushrooms” among other hallucinogenic drugs. After Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed that bill, he encouraged lawmakers to try again and also offered some suggestions for the state to establish “regulated treatment guidelines” for psychedelics.

The move to legalize psychedelics in California appears to be entering a new phase, with incremental steps to permit the drugs in therapeutic settings.

Jan. 14, 2024

Jared Moffat, campaign director of the Alliance for Safer Use of Psychedelics, a group that sponsored the bill, issued a statement saying California missed a chance to create “a model policy for the rest of the country.”

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