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What will it mean if California decriminalizes psychedelics?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Drug Charges |

Increasingly, people are using psychedelic drugs (also known as hallucinogens) to treat various mental health and substance abuse disorders. “Magic” mushrooms are among the most common. 

Several cities in Northern California (in addition to Portland and Denver) have decriminalized some natural (plant-based) psychedelics. That means while they’re not specifically legal, there are no criminal consequences for possessing or using them within the established regulations – typically in controlled settings and under the supervision of a trained facilitator.

Now a bill to decriminalize the possession and use of four naturally occurring psychedelics statewide has passed the California legislature and is waiting for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. The four are psilocybin (mushrooms), ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-Peyote-derived mescaline.

If Gov. Newsom signs the bill, California would be the first state to decriminalize any type of psychedelics. Their use would, however, be regulated by the state, and their sale would still be illegal. The law wouldn’t take effect until the beginning of 2025.

Strong opinions on both sides of the issue

The legislation has the support of veterans’ groups that have touted the benefits of psychedelics in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. So have some mental health professionals who are already using them in controlled studies. 

Not surprisingly, law enforcement and prosecutors’ organizations are against the idea. These are, after all, extremely powerful and potentially dangerous drugs, even though they’re derived from natural ingredients.

The San Francisco state senator behind the bill explains, “Psychedelics have tremendous capacity to help people heal….These drugs literally save lives.” By decriminalizing them, supporters of the bill say it will be easier for researchers to determine what other conditions they may be able to help treat.

Whether the bill becomes law or not, it’s crucial to know that these drugs should definitely not be used for recreational purposes or without proper supervision. Doing so can still land you in jail facing criminal consequences. 

That doesn’t mean they’re not accessible. If you’re facing charges for illegal possession or use of a hallucinogen, it’s crucial to have legal guidance to protect your rights.