California Psychedelic Law Updates
Written by on September 19, 2021
It’s been a while since I provided an update on the state of California psychedelics law, but there have been a few important updates in the last few weeks, so it’s now that time.
Before jumping in, I’ll remind readers that currently, all psychedelics are illegal under federal law unless a person has received an exemption, which is no easy task. Psychedelics are also illegal under California law. A handful of local jurisdictions have decriminalized psychedelics, but this has zero effect on federal, state, or even county law, and to boot may not even change local criminal laws. Generally, these only tell local law enforcement to make enforcement of local laws a low priority. And that hasn’t stopped arrests or enforcement in all cases, even in those cities.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the two statewide efforts to provide access to psychedelics. The first up is SB-519, a bill that would have decriminalized a host of different plant and synthetic psychedelics and really changed penalties and enforcement. If you haven’t read my prior posts, keep in mind that SB-519 is not a legalization bill but a decriminalization bill, and that may be why it caught any traction in the first place.
SB-519 made it all the way through the California Senate and pretty far through the California Assembly. Last month, Senator Wiener, the sponsor of the bill, essentially put a pause on the bill until next year. Here’s an explanation for his rationale for doing so that he posted on Twitter around the time. Essentially, the bill needs more support in the Assembly, so Senator Wiener and his co-sponsors will spend some time drumming up that support. What this means is that we won’t have any insight until at least early 2022, and possibly not for about a year.
The second effort is the California Psilocybin Initiative 2022 (CPI), the goal of which is to actually fully legalize psilocybin with even fewer regulatory restrictions than state-legal cannabis. The CPI was submitted to the California Attorney General by Decriminalize California a few months ago. Just this week, Marijuana Moment announced that the California Attorney General put the initiative one step closer to being on the 2022 ballot.
At this point, Decriminalize California will need to collect more than 600,000 signatures statewide in order for CPI to make it onto the ballot. And according to the Marijuana Moment article, they already have nearly 3,000 volunteers to do just that. It remains to be seen whether they will get enough signatures, and they are surely in for a tough fight in a state that tends to have a much higher conservative vote than people think — Prop. 64 passed with less than 60% support, after all.
It’s not clear what the future holds for California psychedelics law, but it seems like the state is slowly moving towards some form of decriminalization or even legalization. One thing you can certainly be sure about though is that we will continue to blog about this. So please stay tuned to the Canna Law Blog.