A California state senator has introduced a bill to decriminalize psychedelics

The bill also expunges the criminal records of people convicted of possession or personal use of these substances


Senator Scott Wiener introduced SB 519, which decriminalizes the possession and personal use of psilocybin and other substances. Photo at right by Yarygin/iStock/Getty Images Plus.


A California state senator has introduced legislation that would decriminalize psychedelics. On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 519. Specifically, the bill decriminalizes the possession and personal use of psilocybin, psilocin, MDMA, LSD, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline. (To clarify, the bill does not decriminalize mescaline sourced from peyote, which is a threatened and protected species.)

Furthermore, the bill expunges the criminal records of people convicted of possession or personal use of these substances.

A February 18 statement from Sen. Wiener’s office notes that “Research from top medical universities like Johns Hopkins, Yale, UCLA and NYU shows that these substances can have therapeutic and medical benefits, and decriminalizing their personal use is part of the larger movement to end the racist War on Drugs and its failed and destructive policies.”

Follows similar efforts

Indeed, Wiener’s legislation follows similar, successful efforts to decriminalize these substances in Washington, D.C., Oakland, and Santa Cruz. In addition, Oregonians voted in favour of ballot measures that decriminalized personal use of all scheduled substances. Those 2020 Orgeon ballot measures also authorized the creation of a state-licensed psilocybin-services program.

“Policy should be based on science and common sense, not fear and stigma,” Wiener said. “The War on Drugs and mass incarceration are destructive and failed policies, and we must end them. Moreover, given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for using drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions. People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need. Cities like Washington, D.C. and states like Oregon have led the way, and now it’s California’s turn.”

State Assembly members Evan Low (D-San Jose), Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), and Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) co-authored SB 519.

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