California Assembly to Debate Psychedelic Possession Bill Soon


SB 519, the psychedelic possession bill, is making its way to the California General Assembly again this session. After being put on hold by the Assembly, Senator Scott Wiener’s bill is up for debate again. California has two year long sessions. This allows lawmakers to debate bills longer as the state’s population is large and more representatives are present.

The bill passed the Senate as well as two Assembly committees before being put on hold. Now, debate is back in full swing and Senator Wiener remains positive about its prospects. There’s “probably a 50/50” chance SB 519 will make it to Governor Newsom’s Desk

Possession Bill

Under SB 519, the possession of psychedelics bill, would remove criminal penalties for psychedelic possession for adults 21 and over. Possession includes psychedelics such as psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, and LSA.

“We’ve been trying to arrest our way out of drug use and addiction for 50 years, and it hasn’t improved anything whatsoever,” Senator Wiener, D, explained. “People are still using. People are still getting addicted—not to psychedelics, because these are generally not addictive, but to other drugs. And all we’ve done is fill up our prison with drug crimes, and we’re not safer and we’ve just spent a whole lot of money.”

However, a previous California Assembly committee added limitations to psychedelic possession. Ketamine was also removed from the possession list. This has made one organization, Decriminalize Nature pushing for psychedelic reform laws, to potentially not support the bill. “On the on policy, I agree with Decriminalize Nature,” the senator said. “But sometimes you have a choice about, do you want to pass a meaningful bill, or do you want to insist on the perfect and pass no bill?”

While not having limitations attached to psychedelic possession is ideal, making sure there is support to pass the bill in the first place seems to be Senator Wiener’s priority. 

Next Steps

SB 519 isn’t the only bill Senator Wiener is pushing for. Another of his bills, SB 57, would legalize safe consumption sites across the state. This bill also passed the Senate last year and was put on hold once it reached the California Assembly. 

SB 57 comes at a relevant time. New York City opened two safe consumption sites, making them the first in the country, where they’ve already saved hundreds of lives. Rhode Island also passed a bill last year to legalize safe consumption site pilot programs in the state. 

The White House seems to have taken interest in new types of harm reduction policies, but they haven’t said much regarding safe consumption sites. “Obviously if the [Biden] administration embraces safe consumption sites, that would be very helpful—but the administration may also take a more nuanced position,” Senator Wiener commented. ”I would like for them to be positive, but as long as they’re not hostile, then we can live with that. The problem, of course, was that the Trump administration was completely hostile.”

Reform continues in a progressive state such as California, who has always been a forerunner regarding reform. Now it’s up to the General Assembly to move Senator Wiener’s bills forward to Governor Newsom or not. As more information becomes available, we will update you with the latest.

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