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California Psychedelic Reform Bill Quickly Approaches the End of the Road

The 60-year effort to legalize psychedelics in California has nearly come to an end, but it still has one more hurdle to overcome.  SB58 is a bill that…



The 60-year effort to legalize psychedelics in California has nearly come to an end, but it still has one more hurdle to overcome. 

SB58 is a bill that would decriminalize several natural psychedelics and allow for therapeutic use. On September 7, the bill officially made it through the California legislature and headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law— or vetoed.

It has been nearly a month since then, and it is still unclear whether Gavin Newsom will be supporting the bill. He said in a recent interview with Politico that while he does see the healing potential, he is unsure whether or not he will sign the bill.

Newsom mentioned several times during the interview, which covered an array of political issues in California, that he must ‘ be careful about what he says because he doesn’t want to make the news.’ He also took a couple of jabs at the media for their use of click-bait headlines and expressed a bit of disdain for the profession, saying: “I already could see the headlines on that. I will regret it. I know the media. I know your job. I respect it.”

This is a seasoned politician who is acutely aware of the implications of what he says and does. He made it abundantly clear that his responses in the interview were carefully calculated So, since the signing of bills by Governor Newsom is clearly being considered through the lens of his political position, we are going to the same. 

In the interview, Newsom did a great job of expressing his views without alienating anyone. In other words, he agreed with both sides of the argument and gave no indication of what he planned to do with the bill. It left supporters of the bill just as oblivious to the future of psychedelic regulation in California as before.

An FM3 poll shows that 60% of California voters support the bill. Although only 30% strongly support it, the numbers for general support are high enough that it would likely pass if it were put to a vote among citizens. However, that is not the case here. The bill is in the hands of Governor Newsom, and his decision will impact his political career. 

This bill is a very progressive piece of drug reform legislation. Only two like it have ever passed— in Oregon in Colorado. However, in those two states, it was the citizens who decided to decriminalize and legalize psychedelics. The State politicians were not forced to take a position on this polarizing matter. Gavin Newsom doesn’t have that luxury. 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding SB58, Newsom just signed a different psychedelic bill into law. The bill allows for doctors to prescribe any Schedule 1 drug if it is rescheduled to a lower tier. This includes MDMA and psilocybin. Although it does nothing to increase immediate access to psychedelic medicines, the bill has been making headlines.

This could be proof that Newsom is willing to support psychedelic reform efforts. However, it could also be a way to appease the large percentage of California voters who support psychedelics without signing his name to SB58. As Newsom pointed out several times in his interview with Politico, headlines have a great deal of sway with voters. In three years, when he is up for reelection, voters will remember the news that he signed a psychedelic bill into law, even if this particular piece of legislation is insignificant. 

The Governor is stuck between a large number of citizens who support the measure and some vocal opposition groups that strongly oppose it. He has been keeping his decision close to his chest as he and his team decide the best route to take. But, the wait will be over soon. Newsom has until October 14th to decide what to do with SB58 and the pile of other bills currently piled on his desk. Whether he will sign it, veto it, or allow it to pass into law by refusing to do anything with it will only remain a mystery a short while longer.

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