Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Senate Bill would decriminalize certain psychedelic drugs.
California, one of the first states to legalize marijuana, should take a step further by decriminalizing psychedelics such as “magic mushrooms,” according to a new bill supported by several state senators and assembly members.
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 58 to decriminalize the possession and personal use of certain psychedelic drugs.
Research at some medical universities have found evidence that psychedelics can help treat mental health conditions like depression and substance use disorders such as alcoholism.
“Psychedelics represent the single most important breakthrough in mental health treatment in our lifetimes,” said Dr. Nathaniel Mills, Sacramento Institute clinical director.
The following substances are included in SB 58: psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine.
Wiener said, “These drugs literally save lives and are some of the most promising treatments we have for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction. We need to end the outdated, racist, failed war on drugs and finally pursue drug policies that help people instead of incarcerating them.”
Wiener is a leader within a larger movement to end the so-called “war on drugs and its failed and destructive policies.” He’s also advocated for opening “safe consumption sites” for users of both legal and illegal narcotics in San Francisco and Oakland.
Veterans Affairs has been studying psychedelic therapy to treat veterans living with posttraumatic stress disorder.
“I was against psychedelics until I was in a dark place, and the V.A. helped me through psychedelic research with my severe PTSD,” said Courtney Ellington, the executive director of One Vet One Voice. “When we decriminalize psychedelics, we help those who are trying to help themselves. Psychedelic decriminalization equals street drug prevention, suicide prevention, and an opportunity to build a better community.”
According to Weiner’s office, “Studies show that psychedelics have great promise in treating mental health and substance use disorders. In two different clinical trials, psilocybin was shown to reduce symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression. A John Hopkins study showed a decrease in depression and anxiety in cancer patients using psilocybin. In both 2018 and 2019, the FDA issued Breakthrough Therapy distinction to psilocybin (the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’).”
“Observational studies have also documented the use of ayahuasca (which contains DMT) and ibogaine as potential treatments for substance use disorder. There’s also evidence that psychedelics can help with smoking cessation,” Weiner’s office wrote.
SB 58 is sponsored by Heroic Hearts Project, a veteran service organization.
“Psychedelics helped healed the unseen scars from my 10 years of service in the War on Terror,” said California veteran and Heroic Hearts advocate Michael H. Young. “This sacred plant medicine showed me how to put myself back together again. I am more whole now. I can love again. I am ready to serve my community again.”
SB 58 was co-authored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), Alex Lee (D-Fremont), Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles). Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) is a principal co-author.
Similar local efforts to decriminalize psychedelics were successful in Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Francisco, as well as statewide in Oregon and Colorado.
This story originally reported by KTLA sister station KRON.