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California on the Verge of Decriminalizing Psychedelics

(Noted News) — Californian officials are leading the way in a national realization that the war on drugs has more or less been a fruitless labor. 

A bill introduced by state Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco would decriminalize drugs like MDMA, LSD, DMT, mescaline, ketamine, and magic mushrooms. 

Notably, the bill does not seek to decriminalize peyote, a cactus used for millennia by Native Americans. Excluding peyote from the bill is meant to protect the endangered plant and to make sure it is available for Native American spiritual practices, according to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

“Psychedelic use can come with some risks, but criminalization only increases those risks by creating an unregulated market in which difficult-to-verify dosages and the presence of adulterants like fentanyl threaten public health,” Ismail Lourido Ali of MAPS said.

“The war on drugs has been a complete failure,” Sen. Wiener said. “It hasn’t stopped people from using drugs and it hasn’t stopped addiction.”

The bill would retroactively erase all criminal records pertaining to the use of psychedelics, making job hunting considerably easier for anyone with permanent drug charges on their record stemming from the use of the category of drugs.

In case the bill fails, Decriminalize California, a grassroots activist group, has the goal of collecting 623,212 petition signatures in order to qualify the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative for a November 2022 ballot. 

The organization aims to make magic mushrooms available for medical, therapeutic, religious, spiritual, and personal use. If they get their way, anyone over the age of twenty-one years of age will be able to “cultivate, possess, distribute, transport, and consume magic mushrooms in the state of California.”

California’s move to decriminalize drugs comes following Oregon’s recent legislation that turned a page on the nearly 60-year-old “war on drugs” campaign from the Nixon administration.

On November 3, 2020, the state of Oregon became the first state to decriminalize all drugs, including heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines. Oregon’s push for decriminalization stemmed from the view that the “war on drugs” was ineffective in doing what it claimed to do, targeted people of color, and that money could be better spent on other things. 

Advocates of magic mushrooms have been spearheading the push to legitimize the use of therapeutic psychedelics. A 2016 study from John Hopkins determined that psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, drastically reduced depression and anxiety in patients with terminal cancer. 

“Cancer patients often develop chronic, clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Previous studies suggest that psilocybin may decrease depression and anxiety in cancer patients.”

“High-dose psilocybin produced large decreases in clinician—and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety. At a 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety. Participants attributed improvements in attitudes about life/self, mood, relationships, and spirituality to the high-dose experience, with >80% endorsing moderately or greater increased well-being/life satisfaction. Community observer ratings showed corresponding changes. Mystical-type psilocybin experience on session day mediated the effect of psilocybin dose on therapeutic outcomes.”

Echoing what many of the die-hard advocates of “shrooms” have been saying for years about the drug breaking down barriers between physical and spiritual realms, the John Hopkins study concludes by saying that patients with life-threatening cancer became less anxious about their circumstance.

“When administered under psychologically supportive, double-blind conditions, a single dose of psilocybin produced substantial and enduring decreases in depressed mood and anxiety along with increases in quality of life and decreases in death anxiety in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.”

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