A second California Assembly committee on Tuesday approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize possession of psychedelics like psilocybin and and LSD. But new amendments that add limits on allowable amounts of the substances is creating controversy among advocates.
The Assembly Public Health Committee advanced the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D), in a 8-4 vote. This comes weeks after the Public Safety Committee approved the measure.
Wiener has spent significant energy building support for the reform proposal as it has moved through the full Senate and now two Assembly committees, including by holding a recent rally with military veterans, law enforcement and health officials.
SB 519 would remove criminal penalties for possessing numerous psychedelics—including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA—for adults 21 and older.
“Our racist and failed war on drugs and war on drug policy approach has done nothing to make us safer,” Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D), who presented the bill on behalf of Weiner, said ahead of the vote. “But it’s led to massive public expenditures, torn apart communities, deeply impacted brown and black communities and did nothing to make drug use safer or reduce overdoses. Indeed, the opposite is true.”
“It’s time we stopped this failed mass incarceration strategy and acknowledge that not all substances are harmful or dangerous,” she said. “In fact, quite the opposite has been found of psychedelics.”
Now, as a result of changes approved by the latest panel, the bill includes language laying out the limits for what is an allowable personal possession amount for each substance. That’s led Decriminalize Nature (DN), a group that’s worked to enact psychedelics reform across the country, to call for the tabling of the legislation.
“Setting allowable amounts is just a creative way to say when can law enforcement arrest you,” DN argued.
In a letter about its board’s recent decision to switch from a supportive position on the legislation to neutral, DN listed several reasons not to include the possession limits provision. Beyond enabling law enforcement to penalize people possessing certain amounts of entheogenic substances, it also said the measure has sacred value for communities who’ve used them for centuries and local decriminalization initiatives without possession limits have had “no negative impacts.”
Published: July 14, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News