SB 58, the California legislation which would decriminalize the possession and use of some plant-based psychedelic medicines, has been amended to delay the allowance of what the bill calls “supported or facilitated use” untill a framework for therapeutic use of these substances is implemented.
A further amendment to the bill brings back the working group requirement from SB519, a prior version of SB58 that died in the legislature last year. This language was originally removed from SB58 to lower the bill’s cost.
Combined, these amendments shift SB 58 from legislation focused on removing naturally occurring psychedelic medicines from the state’s criminal code, to one which sets the state up to build a regulated therapeutic model similar to what is under development in Oregon and Colorado.
Should the bill pass, these substances would be decriminalized for personal use, but the type of facilitated psychedelic therapies the bill was originally intended to allow would be delayed until a framework for therapeutic use is developed.
California Senator Scott Wiener who authored the bill explained: “We accepted amendments from the committee in response to concerns that the bill would allow unregulated services to proliferate without adequate safety precautions in place”.
The New Amendments
SB58 was passed by the state Assembly Health Committee in a 9-2 vote at a July 11th hearing. During the hearing, the fifteen-member Health Committee added new amendments which would delay the implementation of provisions related to what the legislation refers to as “facilitated or supported use” until a “framework governing the therapeutic use of those substances” has been adopted.
New language in the amended legislation reads: “This act further decriminalizes the use of specified controlled substances for the purpose of group community-based healing, including facilitated and supported use, risk reduction, and other related services, but delays implementation of this provision until a framework for the therapeutic use, which would include community-based healing, facilitated and supported use, risk reduction, and other related services, of the specified controlled substances is developed and adopted.
The bill will now move to the Assembly’s appropriations committee – the final committee before the proposed legislation is voted on by the full Assembly.”
This change in the language makes it more difficult for a person or group to find and participate in facilitated psychedelic healing – a major goal for Heroic Hearts Project, the nonprofit that sponsored the legislation. Heroic Hearts was hoping these services could be developed after passage of the bill, not as a condition of its implementation.
Jesse Gould, founder of Heroic Hearts, commented that the group “still adamantly supports and continues to fight for communal access to life saving psychedelic care. Politics is rarely a game of ideal scenarios and although the comunal piece is delayed we believe the bill as it stands will pass and will be a giant first step for needed common sense psychedelic policy in California.“
A further amendment to the bill brings back the working group requirement from SB519, a prior version of SB58 that died in the legislature last year. This language was originally removed from SB 58 to lower the bill’s cost. This working group would bring together stakeholders with a mandate to [mandate].
The additional cost associated with the working group may create an issue for the legislation in the upcoming Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, responsible for assessing the budgetary impact of legislation. While most of the provisions in SB-58 have a negligible cost, the working group was the most costly aspect when it was analyzed for SB-519.
The estimated cost of the working group as described in SB-519 was around $5 million. This year, a budgetary shortfall has left the state with less money available for legislation with a price tag, meaning the cost of SB 58 with the working group attached may create a challenge for the legislation in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
If SB 58 is passed, the proposed working group would be overseen by The California Health and Human Services Agency, and would “study and make recommendations on the establishment of a framework governing the therapeutic use, including facilitated or supported use … of mescaline, ibogaine, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and psilocyn or psilocybin.”
The committee chairperson would be would be The Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, and the committee would consist a diverse group of stakeholders, including:
- Persons with expertise in psychedelic therapy, medicine and public health, drug policy, harm reduction, and youth drug education.
- Law enforcement and emergency medical services or fire service first responders.
- People with experience with the traditional indigenous use of psychedelic substances, including representatives from the National Council of the Native American Church and Indian tribes in California.
- Veterans groups.
- University researchers with expertise in psychedelics.
- Research scientists with expertise in clinical studies and drug approval process under the federal Food and Drug Administration.
- Individuals from other states that have decriminalized psychedelics and established regulatory frameworks for the lawful use of psychedelics.
The workgroup would be tasked with studying a broad range of topics, from the safety of each substance to appropriate frameworks for the therapeutic use of controlled substances, and would be tasked with submitting a report of their policy recommendations by January 1, 2025.
The language in the bill would require this report to include: recommendations for developing a statewide training and credentialing program (or programs) for those providing psychedelic services in a therapeutic setting; recommendations for regulatory policies, and educational content and training that minimizing use-related risk while allowing for safe and equitable production, access, use, and delivery.