Bipartisan California Lawmakers File Bill To Legalize Psychedelic Services, With Hopes Of Finding Common Ground With Governor

Bipartisan California Lawmakers File Bill To Legalize Psychedelic Services, With Hopes Of Finding Common Ground With Governor

Bipartisan California lawmakers have introduced a new bill to legalize psychedelic service centers where adults 21 and older could access psilocybin, MDMA, mescaline and DMT in a supervised environment with trained facilitators.

The “Regulated Therapeutic Access to Psychedelics Act” was formally filed on Tuesday by Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R). It was drafted in a way that’s meant to be responsive to concerns voiced by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last year when he vetoed a broader proposal that included provisions to legalize low-level possession of substances such as psilocybin.

Instead, the new bill that’s now being unveiled would provide regulated access to psychedelics in a facilitated setting, without removing criminal penalties for possession outside of that context. It does not lay out any specific qualifying medical conditions that a person must have in order to access the services.

Advocates were disappointed to see the governor, who championed marijuana legalization while serving as the state’s lieutenant governor, reject the psychedelics measure from Wiener last year. But the senator has said he was encouraged that Newsom recommended a dialed-back pathway to reform in his veto message that he and Waldron are adhering to.

“I’m not going to disclose the exact conversations with the administration. What I will say is that we, shortly after the veto, went to the administration to say thank you for outlining a path forward and we intend to to move along that path,” he told Marijuana Moment during a press briefing on Monday. “So we have kept the administration updated. We’ll continue to do so.”

“I don’t want to speak for the administration in terms of exactly what they’re ultimately going to want to see in the bill,” he said. “We look forward to having that back-and-forth over the next six months as we move through the legislative session.”

Meanwhile, Waldron is sponsoring a separate psychedelics bill focused on promoting research and creating a framework for the possibility of regulated therapeutic access that has already moved through the Assembly this year with unanimous support.

“It’s important that we put together all the data that can help us as a foundation as we move forward with the bill that we’re currently working on,” Waldron told Marijuana Moment, adding that the more incremental legislation isn’t expected to receive Senate consideration until April or May and “it may or may not be necessary to have that bill” depending on how the legislature approaches the broader proposal she’s spearheading with Wiener.

On the bipartisan nature of the bill, Waldron acknowledged that there have been questions about how psychedelics policy reform could bring together both sides of the aisle. But she pointed out that the issue is already bipartisan at the congressional level and “it should be” that way, she said.

“It is an issue that is so big that we need solutions and everyone at the table, so I feel that getting the education, getting the background, getting the information is really what we need to do to advance this type of therapy,” she said.

Here’s what the bill, SB 1012, would accomplish: 

Adults 21 and older could access psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote) and MDMA at licensed facilities with trained facilitators.

Facilitators would need to undergo training and obtain a license under a professional board that’d be established under the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).

The board would be overseen by an expert oversight committee under the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency (BCSHA)—with members appointed by the governor.

Regulators would need to develop rules to allow for the licensing of producers and laboratory testing facilities for psychedelics.

The bill would not restrict psychedelic services to people with a specific set of qualifying medical conditions.

Individuals interested in participating in the psychedelic services would need to submit to a health and safety screening.

Facilitators would be required to conduct follow-up appointments with participants, report any adverse effects and provide integration services.

The legislation would create a public-private fund that’d be tasked with promoting public education around the safe use of psychedelic substances.

Psychedelics would remain prohibited outside of the licensed service centers, and there would be no commercial sales component of the law.

Regulators would also need to ensure that psychedelic services are affordable and accessible to low-income populations.

“California’s current approach to mental health has failed to fulfill its promise,” the bill says. “Californians deserve more tools to address mental health issues, including approaches such as regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy, that are grounded in treatment, recovery, health, and wellness rather than criminalization, stigma, suffering, and punishment.”

“An extensive and growing body of research is advancing to support the efficacy of regulated psychedelic substances combined with therapy as treatment for depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, end-of-life distress, other conditions, and overall human wellness,” it continues. “If accompanied by strong public education, guardrails, and safety standards, Californians can promote health and healing by providing regulated access to psychedelic-assisted therapy through a humane, cost-effective, and responsible approach.”

The bill also specifies that one of the goals of the legislation is to “respect and support indigenous cultures, traditions, and uses of psychedelic substances and not affect rights or undermine any protected status, or practice under other laws related to indigenous uses of psychedelic substances.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.—

In addition to Wiener and Waldron, the legislation is being introduced with 12 additional original cosponsors. It’s backed by the veterans services organization the Heroic Hearts Project.

Wiener said that he expects initial Senate committee consideration of the measure by March or April. He said he’s unsure whether it will be referred to a single committee or multiple panels, as his prior psychedelics bill was last year.

Separately, a California campaign to put psilocybin legalization on the state’s November ballot recently announced that it did not secure enough signature to qualify in time for a deadline.

Another campaign filed and then abruptly withdrew an initiative to create a $5 billion state agency tasked with funding and promoting psychedelics research last year.

A third campaign also entered the mix late last year, proposing to legalize the possession and cultivation of substances like psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline. People could buy them for therapeutic use with a doctor’s recommendation. Advocates for that measure still have time to gather and turn in signatures.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has since released its review of that proposal, outlining not only the plan’s policy implications but also its potential fiscal impacts on the state—which the report calls “various” and “uncertain.”

Some California municipalities, meanwhile, are pushing forward with reform on the local level. The city of Eureka, for example, adopted a resolution in October to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi and make enforcement of laws against personal use, cultivation and possession a low priority for police. It’s at least the fifth local jurisdiction in the state to embrace the policy change. Others include San FranciscoOaklandSanta Cruz and Arcata.

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Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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