Earlier this year, State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, unveiled a bill to decriminalize the personal possession of several psychedelic drugs, which has gained traction through the California State Assembly.
Senate Bill 519 would legalize psilocybin (magic mushrooms), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline, except for peyote, recently passed the State Senate on a 21-16 floor vote, according to Bay Area news KPIX5.
"This bill would make lawful the possession for personal use, as described, and the social sharing, as defined, of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),
ketamine,and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), by and with persons 21 years of age or older," the bill wrote.
The bill's journey through the California State Assembly comes as evidence shows psychedelics may hold the key to treating many debilitating disorders such as addiction, PTSD, and depression.
"And I want to say there's been a lot of deliberate misinformation about this bill," Wiener said. "We need to be very ,very clear. This bill is not about children, this is about people 21 and older."
Wiener said support to legalize psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, is to help military veterans who suffer from a wide variety of mental health issues, including PTSD and depression, and to "end the failed War on Drugs."
"The racist War on Drugs, which has fueled mass incarceration and torn apart communities, particularly communities of color, but not made us any safer, the War on Drugs needs to end," the senator said. "People are using drugs right now, and we want them to be able to use drugs in a safe way where they're not in the shadows, where they're not stigmatized."
"I turned to psychedelics as a last-ditch effort to survive. And fortunately, it worked amazingly well," Jesse Gould, a former Army Ranger. "I will say this unequivocally psychedelics have, and will, save veteran lives."
So what are psychedelics?
Psychedelics are psychoactive substances that can alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes. There are two broad classifications of psychedelics that relate to chemical structure.
- Entheogenic Plants: Plants or fungi that produce chemical substances that can cause hallucinations
- Synthetic Drugs: Drugs created in laboratory setting to mimic the effects of entheogenic plants
Here are seven of the most common psychedelic substances explained:
Even though research has shown psychedelics work by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain, which produces psychoactive effects and alters the brain's structure and potentially rewires or repair circuits, hence the healing powers, there are opponents to the bill.
"We are spending far too much time writing lazy policy that slaps a band-aid on drug use, as opposed to writing policies that aid in behavioral health issues, like nutrition, access to job resources, access to family care," said Tak Allen, President of International Faith-Based Coalition and Congress of Racial Equality, who is opposed to SB519.
"I don't need science to tell me that this is a stupid and dangerous piece of legislation," said Nina Salarno Besselman, Crime Victims United of California. "SB519 is akin to fixing the problem of too many red lights out in our streets, by removing them altogether."
The ancient psychedelic industry (explained here & here) could be in the early stages of revival. Perhaps Western medicine could learn from Mother Nature instead of embracing synthetic chemicals to treat complex mental health issues that may not always work.