California Senate Passes Bill To Decriminalize Certain Psychedelics

September 11, 2023

The California Senate recently passed Senate Bill 58, which would decriminalize certain psychedelics. However, it is still waiting for the Assembly for approval despite the Assembly Appropriations Committee passing it.

Should the Assembly pass Senate Bill 58, it will return to the Senate before reaching the floor. This step is because it adopted technical amendments that the Senate must review. The Senate would review the struck provisions concerning the transfer of substances. 

They would also consider the modifications that decriminalize therapeutic use. This change will require extra time because it concerns other amendments that delay decriminalizing personal use. In addition, the Senate would examine the reduced allowance for personal possession and other changes.

The Amendments

Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, Senate Bill 58 would “make lawful the possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of, specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, 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 years of age.” The law would also remove the ban on drug paraphernalia for the substances that would receive legalization.

These amendments happened before the Assembly committee amended Senate Bill 58. This decision delayed the implementation of provisions that would legalize the facilitated communal use of psychedelics. During the delay, the California Health and Human Services Agency must “convene a workgroup to study and make recommendations on [establishing] a framework governing the therapeutic use, including facilitated or supported use, of those substances. The bill would require that workgroup to send a report to the Legislature containing those recommendations on or before January 1, 2025.”

The law focuses on psychedelics derived from fungi or plants. It does not legalize synthetic psychedelics, such as MDMA or LSD. Furthermore, Senate Bill 58 will not legalize peyote. This decision is due to concerns that legalizing it could lead to over-harvesting the ceremonially used cacti. The bill details how much of the to-be-legalized substances people may possess.

If Senate Bill 58 passes the Senate and Assembly, it will go to the Governor. It remains uncertain whether the Governor intends to sign it as he has not stated his intentions. Employers should prepare if the bill becomes law by reviewing their workplace and hiring policies. Working with a background screening company can help determine how the bill would affect them. In addition, the right provider can advise employers on what background-checking policies to implement while providing accurate and timely reports.

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