Psychedelic Possession Bill Moves Forward in California

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SB 519, the psychedelic possession bill, passed it’s first Assembly committee hurdle on Tuesday, June 29 in California. The Assembly Public Safety Committee passed SB 519 with a vote of 5-3, moving the bill on to the next committee for discussion. This bill already passed the Senate.

SB 519

Under this bill, all criminal penalties for possessing or sharing psychedelics would be removed. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Scott Wiener (D), spoke before the committee voted on his bill. He said, “That’s really the question here: Do we believe that we should be arresting someone because they possess psychedelics for personal use? I don’t think we should. Frankly, I think most people don’t think we should be doing that.

“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 continued. “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.”

The psychedelics that would be legal to possess under SB 519 include psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA. Senator Wiener agreed to remove ketamine from the approved list following an amendment from the Senate. Additionally, peyote was not placed on the list in the first place. Not because it’s a strong psychedelic plant, but “because of the nearly endangered status of the peyote plant and the special significance peyote holds in Native American spirituality.”

Public Response

The day before the Assembly Public Safety Committee voted on SB 519, Senator Wiener held a rally with the Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council (PEAC). There, military veterans, medical professionals, and former law enforcement officials showed their support and shared their stories.

Heroic Hearts Project Founder Jesse Gould said he “tried all that was offered to me by military medicine” to treat mental health conditions developed after his time in service. “I was barely hanging on,” he explained to the crowd. “I turned to psychedelics as a last ditch effort to survive”. Since then, he has been able to go through day to day acts without nervous breakdowns.

Future

The next Assembly committees to discuss and vote on SB 519 are the Assembly Public Health Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If SB 519 passes those, then it makes it way to a full Assembly vote. There is no set date for when each committee will hear the bill. As more information becomes available, we will update you with the latest. 

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