Colorado became the second state in the nation to legalize psychedelic mushrooms last week. Voters passed Proposition 122 with a 53.6% to 46.4% margin, a law which will also legalize DMT, ibogaine and mescaline (peyote is excluded) for people 21 and older.
While the law doesn’t create a retail sale system like that which exists for marijuana, it allows citizens to grow and trade shrooms and paves the way for “healing centers” for psychedelics to be administered in safe settings. Colorado was the first state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana ten years ago.
In 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize shrooms with Ballot Measure 109, with voters also approving the decriminalizing hard drugs like meth and heroine with Measure 110. Several cities and Washington D.C. have decriminalized the psychedelic.
Of note, while many states have sanctioned pot — and now, some psychedelics — they are still considered illegal under federal law.
So when are magic mushrooms going to be legal in California?
In California, efforts to bring psychedelics into the good graces of the law have been underway for several years to match our western neighbors, but have been met with fits and starts.
Senate Bill 519
The most promising of the efforts was Senate Bill 519, introduced by Sen. Scott Weiner in early 2021, which aimed to allow possession and use of shrooms, MDMA and LSD. The bill passed the Senate and committees in the Assembly, but in August of this year, the Appropriations Committee removed major parts of the bill, watering it down into a law that would only direct state funds to establish a working group to analyze policy.
Sen. Weiner withdrew the bill and vowed to reintroduce it next year, stating in a tweet, “While I am extremely disappointed in by this result, I am looking forward to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs.”
Ballot Proposition: California Psilocybin Initiative
Proponents of legalizing magic mushrooms have also tried to pass a California law through our ballot proposition process. Last year, a group called Decriminalize California aimed to get a proposition on the 2022 ballot called the California Psilocybin Initiative that would have legalized the consumption and sale of magic mushrooms.
However, they failed to collect enough signatures, citing challenges due to pandemic lockdown measures. They stated they would be fundraising to see if they could pay for a signature drive to qualify for the November 2024 ballot, reported Marijuana Moment, and they have a timeline laid out on their website.
Cities charting their own path
Despite efforts at the state level that haven’t come to fruition, several cities have passed measures to decriminalize shrooms, or at least make enforcement the lowest priority of law enforcement.
Oakland was the first, when their city council passed a measure in 2019 resolving that no city funds our resources could be used in the enforcement of criminalizing use or possession of psychedelic plants. Santa Cruz followed suit with a similar resolution in 2020, and Arcata, CA, home to Cal Poly Humboldt, passed their own version in 2021. In September of this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors also passed a resolution decriminalizing psychedelic plants in their county.
While those looking for a full legalization of recreational psychedelics in California may be disappointed by slow progress at the state level, momentum appears to be building for a legal change to happen in the near future, so stay tuned.
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