Mississippi lawmakers receive medical marijuana advice from Oklahoma and Utah as they develop new bill

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On the eve of a key committee vote, a California senator was joined by military veterans, medical professionals and former law enforcement officials at a press conference Monday to build support to his bill to legalize possession of psychedelics in the state.

The Senate has already approved the legislation, which is due for a first hearing in the Assembly on Tuesday.

SB 519 sponsor Senator Scott Wiener (D) hosted the event days after opponents, including a candidate for state attorney general, rallied around the proposal.

“We’re here today to talk about solutions – real solutions for our veterans, real solutions for Californians of all walks of life struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction,” he said. Wiener said at his press conference. “Psychedelics have shown great promise in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders and have been a lifeline for many. ”

Mental health is an essential reason for decriminalizing psychedelics,” said the senator. “But let’s be clear, there is another reason, and that is that the racist war on drugs, which fueled mass incarceration and tore communities apart, especially communities of color, but did not give us back. more secure. ”

Among those who attended the event were Marine Corps veteran Juliana Mercer, Project Heroic Hearts founder Jesse Gould and Diane Goldstein of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

“Decriminalizing psychedelics will allow law enforcement to prioritize serious threats to public safety and redirect resources from ineffective drug control strategies to strategies that actually work and are based on evidence-based practices. evidence, “Goldstein, who was a lieutenant in the Redondo Beach Police Department, said. “Our current system fails to recognize the medical uses of psychedelics and prevents so many of our vulnerable veterans from seeking the care they need.”

Gould said she “tried everything that military medicine gave me” to treat the mental health issues he developed after serving.

“I was barely holding on,” he said. “I turned to psychedelics as a last ditch effort to survive.”

The Senate approved the bill earlier this month, and the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee – one of two panels it was referred to in the House – is expected on Tuesday. Wiener described his outlook for the future as “very difficult,” but argued at Monday’s conference that this was a policy change needed to advance mental health reform and end to criminalization.

The measure would remove criminal penalties for possession or sharing of many psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA, for adults 21 and older.

The state Department of Public Health would be required to create a task force “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems California may adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in legal contexts. authorized ”. These recommendations would be due by January 1, 2024.

For psilocybin in particular, the legislation would repeal provisions in California law that prohibit the cultivation or transport of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing fungi or other material” that contains the psychoactive ingredient.

the bill Originally included provisions for sealing of records and sentencing for those previously convicted of possession of psychedelics offenses, but this wording was deleted in its last decision by the committee before the vote on the Senate as part of a sponsor amendment.


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Wiener said the reasoning behind the removal was that the policy “ended up driving a huge price tag” based on a tax analysis, but could be dealt with in separate legislation if the main bill is passed. .

Speaking at an event hosted by the Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council (PEAC) this month, the senator said advancing the legislation would be the first step towards decriminalizing all currently illegal drugs. He reiterated this point on Monday, saying that “this bill is a step in the direction of ending the failed war on drugs”.

If the bill ultimately clears the assembly, it is still unclear whether Gov. Gavin Newsom (R) would sign it, though the governor has long been a vocal critic of the war on drugs.

Wiener said this month that one possible amendment in the assembly would be to remove ketamine from the list of psychedelics that would be included in the reform.

“There are disagreements within the psychedelic world about this,” he said. “It could come out. My take on when you hold on to things until you have to donate, and that’s a point we could potentially give in. You don’t want to spontaneously give in on things without gaining some ability to move the bill forward accordingly. ”

Mescaline, a psychoactive compound derived from peyote and other cacti, is another controversial psychedelic.

It was specifically excluded from the reform provisions of the bill in a form derived from peyote, but possession of the compound would be allowed if it is from other plants such as “Bolivian torch cactus, San Pedro cactus, or cactus. Peruvian torch “.

This decision on the exclusion of peyote was informed by indigenous groups who strongly opposed the decriminalization of cacti for conservation reasons and because of its sacred value to their communities.

Meanwhile, a group of California activists announced plans earlier this year to put an initiative to legalize the use and retail of psilocybin on the state ballot in 2022. This group, Decriminalize California, said it would work first to convince lawmakers to continue with reforms, and then bring the issue directly to the people if the legislature does not act.

The California legislature’s psychedelic effort, which Wiener first introduced in November, comes as activists step up efforts to enact psychedelic reform locally in cities across the state and across the country. The bill notes these efforts in an explanation of the proposal.

Northampton, Massachusetts city council passed a resolution in April to remove the priority of law enforcement against the possession, use and distribution of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and l ‘ayahuasca. It is the third city in the state to advance policy change, after Somerville and Cambridge.

These are some of the latest iterations of a nationwide psychedelic reform movement that has grown rapidly since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019.

Besides cities in Massachusetts, four others – Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, and Washington, DC – have also decriminalized possession of herbal and mushroom psychedelics.

In Oregon, the November election saw the passage of historic initiatives to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and more broadly decriminalize possession of all drugs.

The Connecticut governor signed legislation this month that includes language requiring the state to conduct a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.

Texas also recently passed a bill requiring the state to investigate the medical benefits of psychedelics for military veterans.

A New York lawmaker this month introduced a bill that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly research the medical value of psychedelics.

In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to largely remove the priority of entheogenic criminalization, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for passage of the nationwide policy change. ‘State and local jurisdiction authorization to allow healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics.

After lawmakers in Ann Arbor passed a decriminalization resolution last year, a county attorney recently announced that his office would not pursue charges of possession of entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount. in question”.

Aspen, Colorado city council discussed the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and proposals to decriminalize these substances at a meeting last month. But members said, as it stands, passing a reform would be better managed at the state level while entheogens remain strictly controlled by the federal government.

Seattle lawmakers also recently sent a letter to members of a local task force focused on the opioid overdose epidemic, imploring the group to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like ayahuasca and ibogaine. to fight against addiction.

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia / Mushroom Observer.

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