You've Heard About Oregon Decriminalizing Psychedelic Drugs. Is California Next?

Oregon became the first state in the nation to decriminalize small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and psychedelics, so that possession will carry only a $100 fine.

November 11, 2020

Oregon voters last week passed a measure to permit supervised use of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting, becoming the first state to legalize psychedelic mushrooms. Another measure passed by the state's voters will decriminalize small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and psychedelics, so that possession will carry only a $100 fine, also a first for the nation.

In this Friday, May 24, 2019 photo a vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles.

... What to Know
  • Oregon became the first state in the nation to decriminalize small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and psychedelics, so that possession will carry only a $100 fine.
  • A state senator is introducing a bill to decriminalize magic mushrooms, and other drugs could be used to treat depression and anxiety.
  • Oakland adopted a resolution last year decriminalizing certain natural psychedelics that come from plants and fungi, one of a handful of cities nationwide to take that step.

California lawmakers will consider next year whether to decriminalize psychedelic drugs.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said Tuesday that he plans to introduce a bill decriminalizing possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms and other psychedelics, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A movement to decriminalize, or even legalize, psychedelics has grown across the country in recent years as researchers have determined psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of so-called magic mushrooms, and other drugs could be used to treat depression and anxiety.

Oakland adopted a resolution last year decriminalizing certain natural psychedelics that come from plants and fungi, one of a handful of cities nationwide to take that step.

Oregon voters last week passed a measure to permit supervised use of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting, becoming the first state to legalize psychedelic mushrooms. Another measure passed by the state's voters will decriminalize small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and psychedelics, so that possession will carry only a $100 fine, also a first for the nation.

Residents in Washington, D.C., meanwhile, voted to decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi, though Congress could still overturn the law.

Wiener said he was encouraged by those developments and is talking with experts about exactly what form his proposal should take. He said he was leaning toward Oregon's supervised-use approach, but also allowing for the use of synthetic psychedelics such as LSD. He is working with Assembly members Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles, on the bill.

Wiener, who said he does not take psychedelics himself, noted that cultures all over the world have been using them since the beginning of time.

"Any substance can be harmful, so I'm not suggesting that anything is like nirvana," he said. "But we know that psychedelics can be used safely. We know they appear to have significant medicinal uses."

Wiener also plans to reintroduce legislation that would allow San Francisco and Oakland, which are struggling with surging opioid overdoses, to experiment with safe-injection sites where users would take drugs under supervision.

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