California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill proposed to decriminalise possession of natural psychedelic substances like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, and mescaline for individuals over 21.
While this bill aimed to move away from criminal penalties for personal use, it did not support the sale of such substances and had restrictions concerning possession on school premises.
Newsom, who had previously backed cannabis legalisation in 2016, stated that more steps are required before the decriminalisation of these hallucinogens.
He emphasised the need for regulated treatment guidelines, including dosing information, therapeutic rules, and medical safety measures.
This bill, he remarked, would have prematurely decriminalised possession before such regulations were in place.
This move comes after the tireless efforts of drug reform advocates and lawmakers, such as State Senator Scott Wiener, who believed that such legislation would redress the damages of the war on drugs and explore new mental health treatments.
He pointed out that psychedelics, being non-addictive, have shown remarkable potential in addressing mental health issues. Wiener labelled the veto a significant missed opportunity for California to pioneer a science-backed change.
The benefits of psychedelics, especially for veterans and those with PTSD, are garnering growing support.
Joe McKay, a retired firefighter, mentioned how psilocybin drastically improved his life post the 9/11 trauma.
However, concerns remain among some groups regarding the unknown repercussions of these drugs and potential ease of access for the younger population.
While California’s stance remains tentative, particularly around psychedelic substances, states like Oregon and Colorado have advanced in their drug reform.
Moreover, several Californian cities have already decriminalised plant-based psychedelics.
Despite Newsom’s decision, initiatives aiming to legalise and fund psychedelic research are being set for the November 2024 ballot, indicating that the debate on this topic is far from over.