California Lawmakers Kill World's Most Marginal Psychedelics Reform

The now-dead bill would have permitted three counties to establish pilot programs in which military veterans could take psilocybin under the supervision of medical professionals.


The world's most modest psychedelics reform has failed in the California Legislature once again.

Yesterday, the sponsors of a bill that would have allowed three California counties to run temporary pilot programs through which veterans and first responders could be administered psilocybin (the "magic" chemical in magic mushrooms) under medical supervision pulled their legislation, reports KQED.

The bill's authors cited a certain "no" vote in a coming Assembly Health Committee hearing as the reason for axing their own legislation.

This is the latest failure of legislation aimed at liberalizing laws surrounding psychedelic use in the Golden State.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation that would have decriminalized the personal possession and use of various plant-based psychedelics, saying he might support narrower legalization of these substances for therapeutic uses.

In May, a broader measure that would have established a statewide system for licensing and regulating psychedelic use, including the use of MDMA, mescaline, and psilocybin, in private therapeutic settings stalled in the state Senate.

The bill that failed this week was narrower still. It would have authorized the public health officers of San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Cruz to license up to five facilities where licensed medical professionals could administer psilocybin and psilocin (both psychoactive substances found in so-called magic mushrooms) to screened military veterans and first responders. The program would sunset after three years.

California's latest, failed reform efforts were modeled off new programs set up by Oregon and Colorado that likewise legalize psychedelic use in tightly regulated, state-licensed therapy-like settings.

Some local jurisdictions, including several California cities and Washington, D.C., have passed more modest "deprioritization" policies to classify enforcement of certain psychedelic laws as the lowest law enforcement priority.

In D.C., at least, that's created a thriving gray-black market for psychedelic mushrooms. With the modest assurance that they won't face legal penalties, many of the city's pre-existing, semi-legal cannabis businesses have started selling mushrooms as well.

While it's great that one can order delivery mushrooms on your phone in the nation's capital, neither heavily regulated therapy-only psychedelic legalization nor lawless gray markets are ideal.

The former policy restricts psychedelic use to settings that are both expensive and heavily controlled in a way that is likely not appealing to the average person looking to trip on mushrooms. The latter deprives mushroom sellers and consumers of the many benefits of free, fully legal markets, including advertising, branding, access to finance and insurance, and ease of access generally.

In a saner world, psychedelic sales would be treated like any other normal market. As it stands right now, politically practical reform options appear limited to allowing psychedelic use in hyperregulated therapeutic settings or non-enforcement of still-on-the-books criminal penalties for psychedelic use.