Over the past few years, since about 2019, several legislative measures on both the state level and within local municipalities have either decriminalized the possession of natural psychedelics or legalized certain plants for medical use such as in the state of Oregon. Due to a combination of reasons from the federally-enacted Controlled Substances List and the lack of overall support from many state legislatures for reformation, the legitimate medical research done on these plants have been limited at best. There are a handful of overseas companies who adhere to different laws that have been allowed to complete small trials and studies on the efficacy of natural psychedelic plants, but nowhere nearly enough for the Food and Drug Administration to consider approval of any of their substances.
However, in an eerily similar way to cannabis legalization, naturally occurring psychedelics may soon be legal on the state level, in the same state that became the first to allow medical cannabis way back in the late 1990’s, California. With Senate Bill 58, certain plants that fall under the psychedelic umbrella may soon become legalized in the Golden State. Introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener, SB 58 has the potential to be historically groundbreaking for the furtherance of naturally occurring plant-based medicines.
“This bill would make lawful the possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of, specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline, for personal use,” the bill reads, “or facilitated or supported use, as defined, by and with persons 21 years of age or older. The bill would provide penalties for possession of these substances on school grounds, or possession by, or transferring to, persons under 21 years of age.”
One notable revision added to SB 58 so far by Senator Wiener was that the synthetic psychedelics that are utilized more commonly as party drugs such as MDMA and LSD would not be legalized under the measure. Instead, the latest version of the bill crafted by Wiener would only focus on substances that are classified as fungi or plants.
“Listen, I would love to have them included. I think they should be included,” Wiener told Marijuana Moment. “But we also need to be able to pass a good bill. And, unfortunately, there are a lot of stereotypes about LSD and MDMA, and so we decided, let’s get it passed for non-synthetics—which will still be a major game changer with psilocybin, ibogaine, ayahuasca and others—and then we can come back later to address synthetics.”
Along with personal possession of small amounts of the substances, SB 58 would also legalize “group counseling and community-based healing”, meaning that among many possibilities, the ayahuasca rituals that South America has become known as a popular tourist destination for may soon be legalized in California along with the many other ceremonial ways that these plants are used.
There are some notable exceptions to the language of the bill, however. The first exception being that peyote, often used in rituals for certain Indigenous tribes, is also excluded from the bill due to concerns about over-harvesting the cacti that’s already vulnerable and only used for sacred ceremonies. Also, there won’t be any societal or academic studies completed in regards to the outcome of SB58 and if further reforms are needed because of the many current studies already being done on psychedelics according to State Senator Wiener.
“We don’t need a study to tell us that drug criminalization is a failure and that we should decriminalize psychedelics,” the senator told Marijuana Moment during a previous interview in August.
During the public hearings that have been held regarding SB 58 had a wide variety of people and represented organizations and locations to speak in favor of the legislation. Among the diverse cast of advocates, there were representatives from the the City of West Hollywood, California Public Defenders Association and Heroic Hearts Project. The individual representatives also came from a varied background, such as a harm reduction expert, a clinical psychologist and even a nurse practitioner who is facing deportation over psychedelic possession.
Under SB 58, Californians could legally possess up to 2 grams of “the spirit molecule” DMT, 15 grams of ibogaine, anywhere from 2 grams-4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocybin” and up to 4 ounces of “a plant or fungi containing psilocyn.” While other local municipalities have passed measures that have decriminalized certain psychedelics at low amounts, California’s bill is the first to fully legalize the plant substances and implement legitimate medical uses is absolutely groundbreaking.