Senator Wiener Admits Psychedelic Drug Decriminalization Bill May Not Pass

Support for SB 58 has been declining throughout the year

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Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) admitted at a virtual event this week that his bill to decriminalize some psychedelic drugs would have a hard time passing the Assembly in the coming months. His bill needs to pass two tough Committees and a growing number of lawmakers are not on board with the bill.

First introduced in December of last year, Senate Bill 58 by Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) proposed to decriminalize plant-based and other natural hallucinogens such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), dimethyltryptamine (psychedelic drug DMT), ibogaine (psychedelic substance), and mescaline (psychedelic hallucinogen). In addition, law enforcement would be unable to charge those holding the drugs with a criminal penalty while also still being completely illegal for minors.

SB 58 also would remove bans on having psilocybin or psilocyn spores that can produce mushrooms, and on having drug paraphernalia associated with all decriminalized drugs. Specific limits outlined by the bill include up to 2 grams of DMT, 15 grams of Ibogaine, and 2 grams of Psilocybin.

The bill is a significantly pared down version of SB 519, first introduced in January 2021 by Weiner that would not only have legalized the psychedelics in SB 58, but also would have included synthetic hallucinogens such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine (“dissociative anesthetic”), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, molly). However, the bill was amended heavily in 2021 and 2022, removing ketamine, peyote derivatives of decriminalized mescaline, and other troubling parts for legislators and opposition groups, including law enforcement agencies. Despite the amendments, the bill was still gutted in August, removing everything but a single study on the use of the remaining drugs. In March, it was finally passed by the Senate Public Safety Committee, with the bill then moving directly to a Senate vote in May.

In late May, the bill managed to pass the Senate, but due to a growing number of lawmakers opposing the bill, it only passed 21-16. The historical problems of similar past bills in the Assembly, combined with more lawmakers scrutinizing SB 58, have greatly increased the odds of the bill managing to get out of the Assembly at all, with Senator Wiener finally noting the challenges ahead at a  Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council (PEAC) event on Wednesday.

Concern grows over SB58 chances of passing Assembly

“It’s not guaranteed to pass in the Assembly,” Wiener said on Wednesday. “But we’re going to try the very best we can. Part of the complication, is that the measure has been referred to a second Assembly policy committee before it potentially moves to Appropriations and then the floor. It may clear the Public Safety Committee when it goes before that panel on June 27, but its fate is less certain in the Health Committee after that,” he said.

“That is a very hard committee for us. And so I cannot guarantee that we’re going to be able to get a majority of the votes in that committee. We barely got it out by the skin of our teeth last year, and the committee is probably a little less favorable this year. It’s very uncertain what’s going to happen in the Assembly. We’re just going to do our very best to try to move forward.”

“There’s a variety of reasons why people express concerns. I also have colleagues who, despite those concerns, have been willing to listen, meet with our veterans, meet with experts and really think it through and ultimately support the bill. But it’s always been a tough pill.”

Even if it passes the Assembly, Wiener also said that it would still be up in the air, as Governor Gavin Newsom has not publicly said if he would vote on the bill or not.

“It’s unclear to me as the governor is not expressing any opinion pro or con,” added Wiener.

Opponents of the bill have, conversely, grown more optimistic that the bill would be voted down once again due to the growing discontent of the bill, with many hoping that it won’t even reach Newsom by the end of the session in August.

“We’re seeing more and more people in the Assembly question SB 58,” former police officer and current drug counselor Marty Ribera told the Globe Friday. “Many are open to the idea, especially of helping veterans, but want to see a pilot program first or something similar to show there are no major risks and that it can be done safely.”

“Because, as I’ve said before, there is still a long road ahead. It needs to get past the Assembly Committees, which is hard. Than the Assembly itself, also hard. The Governor, who is 50/50 at this point and may not want to risk signing that. Than legal challenges to it. And then pushing it to a statewide vote, which means it would be halted until then. It’s a rocky road, and even Wiener is having doubts that it can make it now.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Comments

  1. The real reason Wienerschnitzel, oops! I mean Wiener, wants to control his peeps with ALL the Psychedelic street drugs and get votes to vote for him all the time. No secret here.

  2. Concerned says

    We can always count on Weiner to be the author of evil, sleezy, destructive bills. Vote him out (of the planet).

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