New California Reform Would Authorize Psychedelics, Expunge Past Criminal Records

California is on the verge of being the most recent jurisdiction to decriminalize therapeutic- and personal-use psychedelics. This adds fuel to the growing countrywide movement to reconsider the so-called Drug war.

The reform was launched on Thursday by state senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat representing San Francisco. It would decriminalize drugs such as MDMA, Ketamine, mescaline, and DMT.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen contained in various mushroom types. Both ketamine and psilocybin are currently being used by patients and doctors for psychedelic-aided therapy. Psychedelics’ wellness and health perks are used in treating mental health issues, such as PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression.

Based on MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), the policy change doesn’t include the utility of peyote, an endangered crop, to promote its availability for conventional Native American religious activities. MAPS is an international psychedelic education and research firm.

Wiener pointed out that the Drug War affair was an utter failure, adding that it has prevented individuals from using drug substances and it hasn’t averted addiction.

According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), LSD, MDMA, peyote, and psilocybin remain illicit at the state tier and are categorized as Schedule 1 substances.

In 2020, Washington and Oregon voters passed measures that permit using psychedelic mushrooms for therapeutic purposes, which are currently being recommended by pharmacists to aid terminally-ill patients within Canada to cope with end-of-life anxiety and pain.

California’s Denver City and Oakland City assimilated resolutions a year ago decriminalizing mushrooms.

New Jersey’s Governor Murphy Phil signed a reform during early February loosening punishments for anyone caught in possession of more than an ounce of psychedelic mushrooms. That reform declassified small psychedelic amounts from a third-degree felony to a disorderly misdemeanor punishable by about $1000 fine or a half-year prison sentence, instead of a three or five-year sentence.

Similar reforms to minimize criminal punishments for psychedelics were also approved in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Santa Cruz, California; and Somerville and Cambridge in Massachusetts.

Ismail  Ali Lourido, MAPS’ advocacy and policy counsel, said that the use of psychedelics is associated with certain risks; however, criminalization heightens those dangers by generating an uncontrolled market where hard-to-verify doses and the existence of adulterants( such as fentanyl) infringe public health.

California’s reform would also eradicate past criminal convictions for individuals caught possessing psychedelics. It would also set up a commission to suggest a regulatory department tasked with regulating psychedelic-aided therapy for treating mental health maladies.

Research Studies

 According to the latest study from the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, researchers concluded that the psilocybin (an active ingredient in certain mushrooms) merged with psychotherapy was more efficient in treating main depressive disorders than conventional antidepressants.

Another Johns Hopkins research study recommended synthetic psilocybin to patients with cancer-based anxiety and depression. 80 percent of the participants admitted that their symptoms waned off and psychedelic effects lasted half a year.

Psilocybin effects were studied in fifty-one cancer individuals with life-threatening symptoms and diagnosis of anxiety and depression. Staff, participants, as well as community observers, rated the participants’ attitudes, moods, and behaviors amid the study.

Although the growing research and change in public view,  psychedelics for therapeutic and private consumption applications remains to be a fragile subject for some voters and legislators who could be hesitant in rewriting current drug regulations.

Wiener asserted that although decriminalization momentum is garnering support, it’s a slow-moving procedure.

Similar Domino Effect

Less than a decade ago, adult-use marijuana was prohibited in all fifty American states. That began changing during 2012 when Washington and Colorado became the first regions to authorize recreational marijuana. Presently, fifteen states, Washington D.C, and two territories have legalized adult-use cannabis. Thirty four-states and two regions permit medical marijuana.  States where medical marijuana is legal to include Alaska, Florida, Delaware, CNMI, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Louisiana, and Guama, and so on.

Modern research studies show that marijuana is a crucial aid in treating various clinical applications. These include nausea, glaucoma, spasticity, and movement disorders.  Recent research also shows that cannabis’s medical properties can protect the body from some forms of malignant tumors.

Wiener expects a similar domino effect to occur with psychedelics. He said that a ballot measure could be more successful if legislators vote against his reform. According to his administration, Wiener wants psychedelics to get a commission hearing at the state Senate   sometime between March and April.

He added that voters, in several ways, are ahead of elected representatives in regard to criminal justice policy change. He further said that this will be the first time that a psychedelic decriminalization reform will be tabled before the Legislature. Most of the lawmakers won’t be familiar with the matter.

A grassroots measure is already building momentum in California during a time when legislators are musing on the decriminalization reform. Decriminalize California measure plans to collect 623,212 signatures to make the initiative eligible for the 2022 November ballot.

 That reform would permit adults to possess, cultivate, transport, consume and distribute magic mushrooms within California.


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