California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 58 which would have decriminalized several plant-based psychedelic drugs. The state has long been a leader in easing various drug laws beginning with cannabis, but the Governor just said no to this piece of legislation.
Governor Newsom also issued a letter stating that he wasn’t opposed to the drugs themselves and that he saw great promise for them. However, he specifically noted that with no regulations in place before decriminalization, he couldn’t pass the legislation.
Newsom wrote: “Psychedelics have proven to relieve people suffering from certain conditions such as depression, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other addictive personality traits. This is an exciting frontier and California will be on the front end of leading it.” He went on to write:
California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines – replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, rules to prevent against exploitation during guided treatments, and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses. Unfortunately, this bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign it.
The proposed legislation was introduced in December 2022 by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). It was passed by legislators in September 2022, but vetoed by the Governor on October 7, 2023.
The bill stated that it would decriminalize certain hallucinogenic substances. It would have made lawful the possession, preparation, obtaining, or transportation of, specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and mescaline, for personal use, as defined, by and with persons 21 years of age or older. The bill would provide penalties for possession of these substances on school grounds, or possession by, or transferring to, persons under 21.
It would have also legalized the cultivation or transportation of specified quantities of spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other materials that contain psilocybin or psilocyn for personal use, as defined, by and with persons 21 years of age or older.
The Governor said he would be open to a new bill next year that would address therapeutic guidelines.
This wasn’t State Senator Weiner’s first attempt at decriminalizing psychedelic drugs. His previously proposed legislation included MDMA and LSD, which were deal breakers for many. He stripped them out and sent it through again as SB 58.
Despite the Governor’s decision to veto the bill, cities like Oakland, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, and San Francisco have all passed local legislation to make personal use and possession of psychedelics a low priority for police.
Other states like Oregon and Colorado have begun easing laws around psychedelic drugs. In 2020, Oregon passed laws allowing for small possession of certain psychedelic drugs and legalized supervised usage. Colorado legalized psilocybin treatment centers and also allowed for personal use of some psychedelic drugs.