SB 519 Would Decriminalize Psychedelic Drugs

As promised, State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation Thursday that would decriminalize the use of psychedelics in California. SB 519 applies to psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (ecstasy), LSD (acid), ketamine (Special K), DMT, and mescaline. The bill excludes peyote, an endangered plant, in order to ensure its availability for traditional Native American ceremonies.

SB 519 contains a criminal justice component that would allow for expungement of criminal records for those with prior convictions for possession of psychedelics. It also provides a pathway to eventual treatment of mental health disorders through the use of psychedelics.

Whether or not the Legislature approves Wiener’s bill, he thinks decriminalization is somewhat inevitable. Activists are already working to get the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative to qualify for the ballot in 2022. If his bill fails, Wiener believes a ballot measure would have a good chance, just as marijuana legalization succeeded with voters in 2016.

“In many ways, the voters are ahead of the elected officials when it comes to criminal justice reform," said Wiener (NBC). "This is the first time this idea has been in the Legislature. Many of my colleagues won't be familiar with the issue."

They’ll be familiar soon.


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