California May Decriminalize Psychedelics

On February 17, 2021, California Senator Scott Wiener introduced SB-519, a bill that if passed, would decriminalize a host of both natural and synthetic psychedelic drugs. In this post, I’ll unpack what the law would do in its current form.

Before I get into the specifics of the bill, there are three things that are important to note. First, this bill was just introduced and it’s highly likely that it will be amended–possibly even substantially–during the legislative process. Second, it’s by no means guaranteed that this bill will pass. The California legislature has had a hard enough time trying to pass a hemp CBD law that we don’t recommend getting your hopes up just yet.

Third, and most importantly, this law would NOT legalize psychedelics in the same sense as states have legalized cannabis across the nation. There is a big difference between decriminalization and legalization, and the difference can often be complex. But in the simplest terms, this bill won’t open up legal commercial opportunities; instead, it is mainly designed to reduce and eliminate penalties for possession and personal use by persons over 21. And it certainly won’t change federal law.

With that, let’s take a look at what

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