California may approve the use of psychedelic therapy following its decision to not decriminalize "magic mushrooms."

California may approve the use of psychedelic therapy following its decision to not decriminalize “magic mushrooms.”

California legislators presented a bipartisan proposal on Tuesday to permit individuals over the age of 21 to use psychedelic mushrooms under the supervision of professionals. This initiative is part of their efforts to address mental health and substance abuse issues in the state.

Last year, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that aimed to make possession and personal use of certain plant-based hallucinogens, such as psychedelic mushrooms, legal. This was the first time that the bill, proposed by Democratic Senator Scott Wiener, had successfully passed through the legislature after facing delays for several years. In his veto message, Newsom, who had previously supported the legalization of cannabis in 2016, encouraged lawmakers to focus on creating therapeutic guidelines and regulations.

Wiener and Waldron, a Republican Assemblymember, have joined forces to propose a measure that would permit individuals to ingest psilocybin, the psychoactive element found in psychedelic mushrooms, while under the guidance of a licensed therapist. The proposal also includes provisions for dimethyltryptamine (DMT), MDMA, and mescaline.

The states of Colorado and Oregon have authorized the use of psychedelic mushrooms and have put in place systems to regulate their therapeutic use. In California, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz have essentially decriminalized the possession of psychedelic mushrooms, which means that individuals cannot be detained or charged for having small quantities of plant-based hallucinogens.

At a press conference on Monday, Wiener stated that individuals in California are facing difficulties with mental health and substance abuse. He also stated that the use of psychedelics, in conjunction with therapeutic assistance, can be an effective means for individuals to regain their well-being. Wiener emphasized that this approach has been especially beneficial for veterans and first responders in California, and could potentially help numerous others as well.

Waldron, who introduced a different bill to study the use of psychedelic therapy, said the bipartisan bill aligns with Newsom’s vision by providing safeguards around psychedelic therapy. A person would have to go through a comprehensive screening to determine if they’re fit to consume hallucinogens for therapy and engage in follow-up assessments.

Waldron stated that the bill aims to change the way the state handles mental health emergencies, moving away from criminalizing and punishing individuals.

According to Wiener, California currently has a large network of underground therapists who offer psychedelic therapy. The bill aims to establish a state licensing board to regulate these services and bring them into the public sphere.

According to the legislation, individuals are not permitted to possess or use this substance for personal reasons. This means that clients are unable to purchase the substance for their own use. Despite this, the drugs would remain prohibited under federal law. Wiener stated that he does not want to rely on the federal government’s actions and believes that state lawmakers have the power to approve regulated use of psychedelics, following in the footsteps of previous efforts to legalize therapeutic use of cannabis for treating cancer and HIV.

In the 1960s, psychedelic mushrooms were praised as a mind-altering substance. They have been incorporated into religious and spiritual ceremonies in certain cultures for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Studies suggest that psilocybin and other substances may hold potential for alleviating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration recognized psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” and released preliminary guidelines for scientists conducting clinical trials with psychedelic drugs.

The Heroic Hearts Project, a nonprofit organization that assists veterans in overcoming trauma, is the sponsor of the bill. Juliana Mercer, a member of the Marine Corps and the board of directors for Heroic Hearts Project, shared that she has utilized psychedelics to cope with her PTSD through programs abroad. Recently, her organization sent a team of veterans to Oregon to partake in regulated psilocybin treatment.

Mercer stated that by implementing education and regulation, individuals will have the opportunity to transition from participating in this activity illegally to a safe and controlled environment.

She stated that this will enable them to “attain the healing they deserve without worrying about facing negative consequences.”

The California Coalition for Psychedelic Safety and Education, which was against the proposal to make psychedelics legal in the previous year, has now come together to support the nonpartisan bill this year. Susan Sagy, the group’s executive director, described it as a strategy that considers both the potential advantages of therapeutic use and the potential hazards to public health.

Supporters of the legislation predict that it would require 18 to 24 months to put the program into effect should the bill be passed. Additionally, the bill would establish an educational program centered on minimizing harm and informing about the possible negative consequences of psychedelics.


The article has been revised to clarify that the educational program will prioritize teaching about harm reduction and the negative impacts of psychedelics, rather than trying to reduce the stigma surrounding their use.