Gavin Newsom Vetoes Bill To Decriminalize Several Hallucinogens

 October 9, 2023

California's Governor, Gavin Newsom, has put a halt to a bill that would have decriminalized certain hallucinogens, possibly signaling a more cautious approach as he eyes higher political ambitions.

For those who've been tracking the progress of this bill, it's a surprising turn of events.

The bill, had it passed, would have decriminalized the possession and personal use of several hallucinogens for individuals aged 21 and above. This includes substances like psilocybin, commonly found in psychedelic mushrooms, as well as DMT and mescaline, according to Breitbart.

Newsom's concerns about the bill

While the bill aimed to ensure that individuals wouldn't face arrest or prosecution for possessing limited amounts of these hallucinogens, it did not propose legalizing their sale. Moreover, possession on school premises would still have been prohibited.

Newsom, despite being a proponent of cannabis legalization in 2016, expressed reservations about this bill. He emphasized the need for a more comprehensive framework before taking such a step.

He stated that California should first establish regulated treatment guidelines, which would include dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, and measures to prevent exploitation during guided treatments. His primary concern was that the bill would decriminalize possession before these guidelines were in place.

Legislation's potential impact and public opinion

The proposed legislation, which was set to take effect in 2025, also called for the California Health and Human Services Agency to study and provide recommendations on the therapeutic use of these psychedelic substances.

Despite the state's efforts, these drugs would remain illegal under federal law. However, the perception of psychedelics has been changing. They are now being viewed as potential treatments for various mental health issues, including PTSD.

The Federal Drug Administration even designated psilocybin as a "breakthrough therapy" for treatment-resistant depression in 2019. This shift in perspective is also reflected in public opinion, with many now supporting their therapeutic use.

Voices in support and opposition

Many veterans have spoken in favor of the legislation, citing the benefits of psychedelics in treating trauma. Joe McKay, a retired firefighter from New York City, shared his positive experience with psilocybin during an Assembly hearing.

However, there were concerns about the potential risks. Some believe that the benefits of these drugs are still largely unexplored, and there were fears that decriminalization could lead to increased crime rates, even though recent studies suggest otherwise.

Parent organizations were apprehensive that the bill would make it easier for young individuals to access these drugs. The California Coalition for Psychedelic Safety and Education, which opposed the bill, stressed the need for more safeguards before decriminalization.

Future prospects for psychedelic decriminalization

State Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill's author, expressed disappointment over the veto. He emphasized the benefits of these substances and criticized the decision to continue criminalizing their use.

Wiener has plans to introduce new legislation in the future. He had previously attempted to pass a broader bill that would have also decriminalized LSD and MDMA.

While the governor's veto is a setback, there's still hope for proponents of psychedelic decriminalization. Cities like Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley have already decriminalized natural psychedelics derived from plants and fungi.

What's next for California?

Despite the veto, Californians might get another chance to voice their opinion on this matter. Advocates are working on two initiatives for the November 2024 ballot. One aims to legalize the use and sale of mushrooms for those 21 and older, while the other seeks approval for a $5 billion loan to establish a state agency for researching psychedelic therapies.

It's clear that the debate around psychedelics is far from over. With changing perceptions and increasing evidence of their therapeutic benefits, it's only a matter of time before more states reconsider their stance.

As the story unfolds, it will be interesting to see how California, a state known for its progressive policies, navigates this complex issue.


  • Newsom vetoes bill aimed at decriminalizing certain hallucinogens.
  • The bill would have allowed individuals 21 and above to possess substances like psilocybin.
  • Newsom calls for a comprehensive framework before decriminalization.
  • Public opinion on psychedelics is shifting, with many seeing their therapeutic potential.
  • State Sen. Scott Wiener plans to introduce new legislation in the future.
  • California cities have already decriminalized natural psychedelics.
  • Two initiatives related to psychedelic use are being prepared for the November 2024 ballot.

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