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New Senate bill could decriminalize psychedelics in California 

Psychedelic drugs could be legal in the future if a newly introduced state Senate bill comes to pass.

California state Sen. Scott Wiener's (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 58 would decriminalize certain hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin (mushrooms), psilocyn, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) for personal use and possession. The bill doesn't include synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA.

While Wiener couldn't be reached for comment before press time, the bill states that criminalizing drugs such as psychedelics has failed to deter drug use and also makes it difficult to verify dosages.

"For over 50 years, the War on Drugs has caused overwhelming financial and societal costs. The current United States drug control scheme does not reflect a modern understanding of the incentives, economics, or impacts of substance use, nor does it accurately reflect the risks or potential therapeutic benefits of many presently illicit substances," the bill says.

A previous iteration of the bill was introduced earlier this year, but it was shot down by Republicans and a handful of Democrats amid opposition from law enforcement. The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) opposed the bill, advocating for more research into psychedelics.

"If the proponents want more research, that's one thing," Greg Totten, CEO of CDAA, wrote in a statement. "And if they are advocating for therapeutic use under medical supervision, that is also worth considering. But science does not fully understand these drugs and that's why this bill is so reckless, because it advocates for skipping that scientific scrutiny altogether."

While further research is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of using psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, some mental health professionals agree that psychedelics can play an impactful role in psychiatric treatment. Dr. Michael McGee, who owns a private practice in San Luis Obispo and specializes in psychedelic integration services and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, is one of them.

"Psychedelics can potentiate a human psychotherapeutic process through therapy in terms of helping people to come to deep core realizations about who they are through the truth of who they are and the truth of their lives," McGee said. "It can create what I call 'a corrective re-perceiving of the truth of things' and helping people to see their unconscious and automatic sort of ways of being and seeing and doing in the world."

However, he urged caution when it comes to recreational use of psychedelics. McGee added that repeated recreational use can diminish the positive medical effects that a psychedelic substance provides.

"Even though they can be profoundly life transforming, they really only work well in the context of a deeply embedded psychotherapeutic process," McGee said.

The fate of SB 58 will be determined in the upcoming legislative session, which reconvenes in January. Δ

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