Psychedelics, including magic mushrooms, one step closer to decriminalization in California

A bill that will decriminalize naturally occurring psychedelics, like "magic mushrooms", passed the California State Assembly floor on Wednesday, Sept. 6. 

The bill applies to the use and possession of small amounts of psychedelics for people 21 and over.

The legislation, Senate Bill 58, follows suit to local policies already passed in Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

"California’s veterans, first responders, and others struggling with PTSD, depression and addiction deserve access to these promising plant medicines," said Senator Scott Wiener. "SB 58 has prudent safeguards in place after we incorporated feedback from three years of deep engagement with a broad array of stakeholders. We know these substances are not addictive, and they show tremendous promise in treating many of the most intractable conditions driving our nation’s mental health crisis. It’s time to stop criminalizing people who use psychedelics for healing or personal well-being."

But opponents, like the Coalition for Psychedelic Safety and Eduction, disagree.

The Coalition cites serious medical issues such as hallucinations, paranoia and psychological trauma related to psychedelic use as reasons to halt the bill. They are urging state senators to block the legislation until clear safety measures can be implemented.

Both Colorado and Oregon have already passed similar state decriminalization efforts.


In a recent review of data in Colorado, neither public health nor public safety incidents related to psychedelics increased after the state decriminalized plant-based psychedelics, according to officials.

Researchers also said that decriminalizing these psychedelic substances did not lead to addiction, but rather showed promise in treating substance use disorders and alcohol dependence.

"Every day that criminal penalties prevent veterans from accessing psychedelic plant medicines is a day their lives are at risk," said Jesse Gould, a veteran and Founder of the Heroic Hearts Projects. "Psychedelics helped heal the unseen scars from my service in the War on Terror after traditional medicine failed me for years. Since then I’ve dedicated my life to educating veterans in the safe and effective use of psychedelics. Removing criminal penalties for the use of these substances will help that work, not hurt it."

For veterans, many of whom live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression, access to psychedelics can be lifesaving. 

Veterans are more likely to die by suicide than the general public, and the number of veteran suicide deaths is more than four times higher than combat deaths since 9/11, according to officials.

The bill will return to the Senate floor for a final sign-off, at which time Gov. Gavin Newsom will give it a final review. The legislation would take effect in January 2025.