After Setback, Here’s What The Future of Legal Psychedelic Therapies in California Looks Like

After Setback, Here’s What The Future of Legal Psychedelic Therapies in California Looks Like

In a setback for advocates of psychedelic-assisted therapy, California’s latest attempt to legalize the supervised use of certain psychedelic substances has once again failed to advance. Senate Bill 1012, known as the “Regulated Therapeutic Access to Psychedelics Act,” was halted in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 16, 2024, primarily due to budgetary constraints.

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The bill, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), aimed to establish a regulated framework for adults 21 and older to access psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, MDMA, mescaline, and DMT in supervised settings with trained facilitators.

This legislation was a more focused approach compared to previous attempts, addressing concerns raised by Governor Gavin Newsom when he vetoed a broader psychedelics decriminalization bill in October 2023.

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Why Was the Bill Dropped?

The primary reason for the bill’s failure to advance was California’s current budget crisis. The state is facing a significant deficit, estimated to be around $38 billion. In such a challenging fiscal environment, legislators are forced to scrutinize and often shelve bills with substantial associated costs.Senator Wiener acknowledged this reality in a statement, saying, “We’re in a terrible budget year, where all bills with significant costs are at risk. Nevertheless, it’s disappointing for this bill not to move forward”.

The bill would have required the establishment of new regulatory bodies and licensing frameworks, which would have incurred significant costs. For instance, it proposed creating a “Division of Regulated Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy” under the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency (BCSHA)

These financial implications, coupled with the state’s budget deficit, led to the bill being placed on the “suspense file,” a legislative process where costly bills are often shelved.

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Future Prospects for Psychedelic Therapy in California

Despite this setback, the future of psychedelic therapy in California is not entirely bleak. Several factors suggest that legalization or decriminalization efforts may continue to gain traction:

  1. Ongoing Support: Senator Wiener and other advocates remain committed to the cause. Wiener stated, “I’m highly committed to this issue, and we’ll continue to work on expanding access to psychedelics”.
  2. Bipartisan Interest: Psychedelic therapy has garnered bipartisan support in California. Republican Assemblymember Marie Waldron has also championed the cause, particularly for its potential to help veterans with PTSD.
  3. Public Opinion Shift: There’s growing public interest and acceptance of psychedelics for therapeutic use, particularly for treating conditions like PTSD, depression, and addiction.
  4. Ballot Initiatives: Two psychedelic-related initiatives are actively collecting signatures for the 2024 ballot. These citizen-led efforts could bypass legislative hurdles.
  5. Federal Progress: Potential federal rescheduling of substances like MDMA could influence state-level policies.
  6. Governor’s Openness: While Governor Newsom vetoed the previous bill, he expressed support for creating regulated treatment guidelines, suggesting openness to future legislation.

When Might Legalization or Decriminalization Occur?

Given the current landscape, it’s challenging to predict an exact timeline for the legalization or decriminalization of psychedelic therapies in California. However, several potential milestones could shape the near future:

  1. 2024 Ballot Initiatives: If successful, these could lead to changes as early as 2025.
  2. Next Legislative Session: Senator Wiener or other lawmakers may introduce new legislation in the next session, potentially as soon as 2025.
  3. Budget Recovery: As California’s fiscal situation improves, there may be more room for costly new programs, possibly in the next 2-3 years.
  4. Federal Action: FDA approval of MDMA or psilocybin for therapeutic use could accelerate state-level changes, with potential developments in the next 1-2 years.

In conclusion, while the recent failure of SB 1012 is a setback, it appears to be more a question of “when” rather than “if” psychedelic therapies will be legalized or decriminalized in California.

The combination of growing public support, bipartisan interest, and ongoing advocacy suggests that change is likely on the horizon, potentially within the next 2-5 years, depending on various political, economic, and social factors.

Healing Maps Editorial Staff

Healing Maps Editorial Staff

View all posts by Healing Maps Editorial Staff

The Healing Maps Editorial Team has decades of experience across all facets of the psychedelic industry. From assessing studies and clinic research, to working with clinician's and clinics, we help provide data-backed information to psychedelic-curious individuals across the globe.

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