2023 has been a busy year for psychedelic legal reform. As these drugs continue to be researched, only progress is being made.
In the past two months alone, both California and Massachusetts have seen movement towards legal change.
On Oct. 7, 2023 California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have decriminalized the possession and use of psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine and mescaline for individuals 21 and older. In his statement following the veto, he voiced his support to begin legal psychedelic reform, according to the Associated Press (AP) on Oct. 7, 2023.
“California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines – replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines rules to prevent against exploitation during guided treatments and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses,” he said in his statement. However, because the bill would decriminalize the possession of these substances before such guidelines are in place, he “cannot sign it.”
California Sen. Scott Wiener, who proposed the bill, voiced his disappointment in the bill’s failure.
“This is a setback for the huge number of Californians — including combat veterans and first responders — who are safely using and benefiting from these non-addictive substances and who will now continue to be classified as criminals under California law,” Wiener said in a statement following the veto.
While the bill may not have passed, advocates are trying to place two initiatives on the November 2024 ballot which would expand psychedelic use, according to the AP.
This November, Massachusetts Gov. Marura Healey unveiled and filed the Act Honoring, Empowering and Recognizing Our Servicemembers and Veterans, a bill which proposes to study the medical benefits of psychedelic drugs.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently published a draft guidance for psychedelic use in medical settings, “Psychedelic Drugs: Considerations for Clinical Investigations Guidance for Industry.” In 2019, the FDA designated psilocybin treatment as a “breakthrough therapy.”
Despite recent studies which show no increase in crime rates after decriminalization, opponents of the bill said it could lead to an increase in crime, largely unknown benefits and children having easier access to the drugs.
According to a study published in Nature this year, “The findings raise the prospect that psychedelic drugs could allow long-term changes in many types of behavioral, learning and sensory systems that are disrupted in mental-health conditions.”
More states need to hop on the trend of psychedelic legal reform. Scientists have done the research into the results of drug decriminalization; crime does not get worse. Research into psychedelics has yielded such hopeful and positive results for being effective in treatment into mental health disorders, according to the FDA. Decriminalization goes beyond just letting people trip; it allows the substance to be researched more easily and made safer.
Harvie Marcotti can be contacted at