By TOM JOYCE
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A California state Senator has filed a bill to decriminalize the possession and personal use of certain psychedelic drugs.
State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced Senate Bill 58 on Monday.
Sen. Wiener’s bill would include these drugs: psilocybin, psilocin, Dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine.
“Psychedelics have tremendous capacity to help people heal, but right now, using them is a criminal offense,” Sen. Wiener said in a press release. “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 We need to end the outdated, racist, failed War on Drugs and finally pursue drug policies that help people instead of incarcerating them.”
Sen. Wiener has filed this bill before. His bill passed in the California Senate in 2021. However, it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Heroic Hearts Project, a veteran service organization, voiced support for the legislation, arguing that these products can improve mental health for military veterans.
“Psychedelics helped healed the unseen scars from my 10 years of service in the War on Terror,” California veteran and Heroic Hearts advocate Michael H. Young said in the release. “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. Every veteran deserves responsible access to psychedelic healing modalities. Decriminalize psychedelics now!”
The bill also has some support from law enforcement. It includes a retired San Francisco Police Department Sergeant.
“As a former law enforcement professional, I have seen what works and what doesn’t,” Sgt. Carl Tennenbaum, retired San Francisco Police Department officer, said in the release. “Removing criminal penalties for psychedelics will improve public safety in California, allow law enforcement to focus on the violent crime that threatens all of us, and it will give hope to first responders and many others that suffer from PTSD, depression by allowing personal use of psychedelic medicines for healing. We’re in a mental health crisis, it’s time California did something about it.”
SB 58 is co-authored by Senator Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, and Assemblymembers Evan Low, D-Silicon Valley, Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, Isaac Bryan, D-Los Angeles, Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles, Alex Lee, D-Fremont, and Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland. Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, is the principal co-author of the bill in the California Assembly.
California would not be the first place to decriminalize these substances. Oregon and Colorado have decriminalized them, as have Washington, D.C., and California cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz.