California Proposes Decriminalising Shrooms

Surf’s up, beach bros! 

It’s a brand new day for the Golden State. A proposal known as SB 519 has been pushed to allow the possession, cultivation, use and “social sharing” of psychedelics in California. If approved, the bill would make it OK to use psilocybin from magic mushrooms and magic truffles, ibogaine, DMT, mescaline, LSD, ketamine, and MDMA. Yep, you can use ‘em either by yourself or with your homies. So fingers crossed!

California Proposes Decriminalising Shrooms

The bill’s sponsor — Sen. Scott Weiner of San Francisco — said that SB 519 would remove criminal penalties for holding any drugs in California, including “hard drugs” like heroin. For sure, it’s a definite move towards stopping the ‘War on Drugs’ once and for all. Will California be able to copy the success of a similar measure in Oregon? Read on to find out! 

“Health issue, not a criminal issue”

Fact: The state of California is the largest in America, in terms of population. But here’s another fact… Thousands of arrests have taken place in California over the years, simply because ordinary folks are caught using psychedelic drugs. This will change soon enough. If SB 519 passes, it can erase past criminal charges for possession from your records—permanently. Wiener told The Guardian that SB 519 will open the doors for an “Oregon-style” no-limits decriminalisation of psychedelics in the Golden State:

“People should not be going to jail for possessing or using drugs. It’s a health issue, not a criminal issue, and I hope that we get all the way there.”

He’s right, of course. 

By acknowledging the medical uses of psychedelic drugs, SB 519 is waving its flag, and stating: “Hey. We’re not a nuisance to society, but a genuine relief… medically!”  Tons of scientific research have also been popping up. Magic mushrooms and magic truffles — like so many psychedelic drugs —are showing serious potential in treating mental health issues. This includes a host of conditions, such as PTSD, resistant depression, and end-of-life anxiety.

Social Sharing of Shrooms

Sen. Wiener’s proposal for California stems from previous efforts to do the same, mainly at the city level. Take Oakland, for example, or across the bay area, or even the surf town of Santa Cruz. All of these cities in California have fought—and won!—their battles. Today, in these cities, cops are barred from arresting folks just for possessing psychedelic drugs. 

But SB 519 wants to achieve more. If passed, it would fix the state criminal code, to state clearly that you’re allowed to plant and share certain psychedelics. The keyword is “share”, not sell — coz the sale of trippy substances is still prohibited. But what does it mean, exactly? As the bill reads:

“Social sharing” means the giving away or consensual administering of [psychedelics] by a person 21 years of age or older, to another person 21 years of age or older, not for financial gain…”

Basically, SB 519 permits the “social sharing” of magic mushrooms and magic truffles, along with LSD, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline. As long as you’re not selling or buying, no charges can be brought against you or your friends. Sounds about right!

Voting by Ballot vs. Elected Lawmakers

In the United States, most drug-policy reforms have won through local citizens voting by ballot. California is hoping to do the same thing. Not with a public vote however, but with elected lawmakers. Will SB 519 survive the dusty, time-worn halls of City Council? Maybe this is the time for a groovy new era of legislation…

After all, California was the first state to allow marijuana for medical use. Due in part to rising scientific evidence at the time. So should history be any different for magic mushrooms, magic truffles, LSD, and ibogaine? Harm reduction should be prioritised, as the bill reads:

“Criminalization has not deterred drug use, and has instead made drug use less safe. It has created an unregulated underground market in which difficult-to-verify dosages and the presence of adulterants, including fentanyl, make the illicit drug supply dangerous.”

Exceptions to the Rule

When it comes to allowing magic mushrooms, magic truffles, and other psychedelics, there are a few exceptions to the rule. 

Despite its popularity, peyote — a hallucinogen found in certain cacti — is *not* on SB 519’s list of allowed substances. Why is that, you ask? For starters, peyote is sacred to various indigenous rituals. A lot of federally recognised Native tribes can already use peyote legally in this capacity. So by excluding peyote from the list, non-Native people (aka tourists) won’t be tempted to “treasure-hunt” in the sorely depleted cactus patches. 

“Peyote is specifically excluded…because of the nearly endangered status of the peyote plant and the special significance peyote holds in Native American spirituality.”

Peyote cactus = almost gone?? Non-Native “harvesters” scour the California desert for peyote cactus patches, which leaves nothing for Indigenous locals. (Photo courtesy: Creative Commons)

“Native Americans in the United States were persecuted and prosecuted for their ceremonial practices and use of peyote for more than a century and had to fight numerous legal and political battles to achieve the current protected status.”

Here are some other exceptions to SB 519, should it pass into law:

  • Knowingly giving psychedelic drugs to anyone under 18 years of age;
  • Possession of said drugs on the grounds of a school; 
  • Driving or operating a vehicle while impaired; and
  • Cultivating psychedelic drugs for financial gain.

What Now?

As of March 7, 2021, SB 519 is now firmly in the hands of the Commissions on Public Safety and Health. This update comes after the bill got a total of 32 yes votes and 4 no’s during its first hearing. Very promising, indeed. Remember? California laws often get passed by elected Senators, and *not* through public voting by ballot. Which is rather a lot of control for elected officials. Things look promising, though, for decriminalising the use of magic mushrooms and magic truffles

Both magic mushrooms and truffles are excellent picks for your first full psychedelic experience. However, if you’re seeking a boost in creativity for your daily tasks, psilocybin is also your friend! Microdosing is the new gold rush in California. So why not get in on the magic? 

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