Emerge’s Hot Take
One month after the California State Senate granted final approval for SB 58, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed the bill. Widely celebrated by proponents after passing the senate, the legislation would have decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline for those Californians 21 and older. The bill, which would have become effective in 2025, would have required California’s Health and Human Services Agency to research psychedelic assisted therapies and make additional recommendations.
Opponents of the bill expressed concerns that decriminalization might lead to an increase in crimes and access to psilocybin for children and young adults. Gov. Newsom cited the need for regulated treatment guidelines such as dosing information and medical clearance protocols as a central reason for the veto.
Those in favor of the bill countered that the legislation would not have legalized commercial sales of the decriminalized substances and would have prohibited possession of the substances on school grounds. Additionally, proponents continue to voice concern that criminalizing access to psychedelics only serves to reduce access where help is most needed, pointing to the number of veterans and first responders already using the substances for therapeutic purposes.
Despite Gov. Newsom’s veto, Californians still have viable paths to psychedelic decriminalization. While the option is rarely exercised, lawmakers may override the Governor’s veto via a two-thirds vote. State Sen. Scott Wiener, who introduced SB 58, stated that he will be introducing new legislation in the future. Finally, advocates are currently working to place two initiatives expanding psychedelic use on the November 2024 ballot.
“By now every thinking adult knows that the war on drugs has been a war on people, and that it continues to be an abject policy failure,” observes Emerge Law Group attorney Matthew Brockmeier. “While our federal government continues to spend billions of taxpayer dollars fighting endless proxy wars, compassionate advocates across the country are fighting to change laws to increase access to potentially life-saving psychedelic medicines – medicines that a myriad of clinical trials have proven to be both safe and efficacious. Backed by both modern science and thousands of years of anthropological evidence, two states have already passed laws legalizing certain psychedelics. Californians were on the precipice of joining this growing movement, but unfortunately it appears that their governor’s political aspirations got in the way of millions of his constituents’ mental health.
“Amidst ongoing speculation of Gavin Newsom‘s presumptive bid for the Democratic nomination in the next presidential election,” Brockmeier continues, “last Saturday morning the governor vetoed a bill that had already made its way through the state legislature. Notably, SB58 would not have established a regulated market for adults to access psychedelics or other plant medicines, as was the case in Oregon and Colorado. Perhaps the absence of any opportunity in this law to commercialize these medicines sealed its fate.”