California Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalise Therapeutic Use of Psychedelic Mushrooms

By Gabriel García February 9, 2024

On 9 February 2024, California lawmakers took a bold step towards the future of mental health by introducing Senate Bill (SB)1012, an initiative that could transform the state’s therapeutic landscape. Known as the “Regulated Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Act”, the bill’s main goal is to allow the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms under professional supervision.

Senator Scott Wiener, along with Assemblymen Josh Lowenthal and Marie Waldron, are the main drivers of this initiative, which seeks to address the shortcomings of the current mental health system in California. Rather than focusing solely on criminalisation, SB 1012 proposes a therapeutic alternative for those who have not found relief from traditional methods.

The proposal challenges the current classification of certain psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin and psilocin, as Schedule I substances, subject to strict regulations. Instead, it proposes a regulatory framework that would allow health professionals to administer these compounds as part of psychedelic-assisted therapies to people over the age of 21.

SB 1012 would also establish a regulatory body charged with licensing and overseeing facilitators of these therapies, ensuring compliance with established guidelines and regulations. In addition, it recognises the importance of a public education campaign on the safe use of psychedelic substances and the implementation of harm reduction measures.

The introduction of SB 1012 comes on the heels of Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB 58, a similar bill that sought to legalise and regulate the therapeutic use of certain hallucinogenic substances. SB 1012 appears to be a direct response to concerns expressed by the governor, who advocated for regulated therapeutic guidelines.

If SB 1012 passes this year, treatment is expected to be available by 2026 or 2027. This represents a significant milestone in mental health care in California, offering hope to those seeking alternative and effective treatment options.

The text of the proposed rule details that “the bill would require the board to establish education, training, and other qualifications and requirements for licensure as a regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy facilitator and establish conditions of licensure”. It would also establish a regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy fund in the State Treasury. This initiative comes in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto last year of a similar bill that would have decriminalised the possession and personal use of various plant-based hallucinogens, including psychedelic mushrooms. While the earlier bill was vetoed, it marks a significant step forward as the first time such a bill has advanced in Congress after years of stalemate.

Democratic Senator Scott Wiener, who led the previous effort, has now teamed up with Republican Assemblywoman Marie Waldron to draft a new proposal that would allow interventions for the use of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of psychedelic mushrooms, as well as other substances such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT), MDMA and mescaline, under the supervision of a professional therapist.

The measure takes a cue from Colorado and Oregon, where psychedelic mushrooms have already been decriminalised and regulated systems for their therapeutic use have been established. In California, cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz have already taken similar steps, decriminalising possession of psychedelic mushrooms and paving the way for a more progressive approach to these substances.

During a press conference on Monday, Wiener highlighted the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, especially when combined with therapeutic support. He noted that veterans and first responders in California have experienced significant benefits in this regard, and stressed the ability of these substances to help a wide range of people improve their mental wellbeing.

Waldron, who introduced another measure to study the use of psychedelic therapy, emphasised that the bipartisan proposal is in line with Newsom’s vision of providing safeguards around psychedelic therapy. Under this proposal, anyone interested in participating in psychedelic therapy would have to undergo a thorough review to determine their suitability, as well as participate in follow-up evaluations to ensure their safety and well-being.

In summary, SB 1012 represents a bold step forward in mental health treatment in California, offering new hope and opportunity for those struggling with mental and emotional disorders. With a focus on regulation, education and professional oversight, this bill could usher in a transformative era in mental health care in the Golden State.

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting world, we invite you to consult the Psychonaut’s Guides by Argonowta. These books will give you a broad and balanced view of psychedelics and their potential therapeutic effects. Remember, however, that these substances are not a panacea or a magic solution to all your problems. Their use requires professional guidance, an appropriate context and a responsible attitude. Psychedelics can be a powerful tool for personal change, but they can also be dangerous if used inappropriately or irresponsibly.

The Psychonaut’s Guides from Argonowta Publishing is a collection of books that explain in a rigorous and accessible way the scientific, historical, cultural and experiential aspects of psychedelic substances. These guides offer updated and contrasted information on the therapeutic and neuroscientific applications of psilocybin, LSD, DMT and MDMA, as well as practical advice on how to prepare, carry out and take advantage of psychedelic experiences. The Psychonaut’s Guides are a must-have reference for anyone interested in learning about the psychedelic renaissance that is transforming mental health and changing lives.

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