Calif. bill to decriminalize psychedelic drugs moves forward as some oppose

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California Sen. Scott Weiner’s bill to decriminalize the possession or sharing of psychedelic drugs is gaining traction after passing through the Senate Public Safety Committee this week. 

But there are organizations that strongly oppose, saying the bill can only do more harm than good. 

“People can have whatever opinions they want about drugs but the question is should we be arresting and jailing people for possessing and using drugs. And I think the answer is absolutely no,” Weiner said. 

The committee passed Senate Bill 519 by a vote of 4-1, giving Wiener and his advocates a better chance at decriminalizing psychedelic drugs while addressing the current mental health crisis. 

“Psychedelic drugs have significant benefits both for mental health and addiction treatment,” Wiener told FOX40. “And the FDA has actually classified several different psychedelics as quote-on-quote breakthrough treatments.” 

If enacted, SB 519 will approve the use of mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, mescaline and ibogaine for combat veterans with PTSD and for people with diagnosed or undiagnosed addictions and mental illnesses. 

The main concern, however, is ending the war on drugs. 

“The war on drugs, which fuels mass incarceration has been an abject failure for 50 to 100 years. The legislation provides for the ability to expunge past convictions and arrests,” Wiener said. 

While Wiener gains support from veterans and drug advocacy groups, there are many, like Tak Allen, the President of the International Faith Based Coalition and the Congress of Racial Equality, who oppose.

“You’re saying that this is for therapeutic purposes, and the way the bill is written, it’s written more as a recreational bill,” Allen said. “I also had major concerns within my coalition that ketamine is another known date rape drug and that’s on the list of drugs that they would like to have legalized.” 

Allen says she appreciates the push to reduce mass incarceration, but after experiencing drug addiction in her own family, she worries the bill is not addressing the real issues at hand. 

“This is a behavioral health issue and that there is a socioeconomic correlation between drug abuse, drug addiction, drug exposure, why are we spending our time writing bills to decriminalize something first and foremost before we come up with a technique or tactic that would solve these underlying issues in the first place?” Allen said. 

In a few weeks, Wiener says the bill will move to the Senate Health Committee. If it is approved there, it will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

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