California’s Psychedelic Decrim Bill SB 519 Marches On!

After a rollercoaster ride, Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 519 is through the California Assembly Health Committee with an 8 to 4 vote. In order to make this happen, Senator Wiener’s office advised that we would have to drop ketamine and adopt personal possession limits.

There was fundamental disagreement with Decriminalize Nature (DN) on whether it was politically possible to convince the Health Committee to go for no limits. We’re taking our lead on this from Senator Wiener, who understands the political landscape much better than we do. I love DN’s passionate case and couldn’t agree more in principle; however, that wasn’t in the cards according to Wiener’s office, and was not an issue of further education for health committee, as DN was proposing. We are trusting our legislative champion to advise us on what is politically possible to navigate this bill into law. We’ve been working hard on this in the past week and a half with DN’s (former) lobbyist Anthony closely involved, and had hoped DN would understand and be supportive of our workaround to make sure people who produce or gift the quantities for groups are protected (alongside proposing relatively high personal use limits that we thought could make it through the Committee).

I want to share some more details and context to correct the misrepresentations that are being spread by DN leadership. In particular, they communicated to the Oakland City Council and forwarded to movement stakeholders that “… the ability of someone who is good at, let’s say, cultivating, and wants to gift a pound or two to a space-holder/facilitator will be inhibited because if they’re found possessing or transporting more than 4 oz., they can be fined or arrested….”

This is flat out wrong. We are proposing language that would specifically allow someone who is providing for a group to possess, transport and gift far in excess of a personal amount. Click here to read the amended language in redline, with yellow highlights making clear that the hypothetical person noted in their letter who wants to gift a pound or two for group use is in fact clearly protected. For example, if a given group is twenty people, then twenty times the allowed personal amount of 4 ounces is five pounds of dried mushrooms—and can be legally provided for that group use. There are also no cultivation limits and someone can supply multiple groups. Note also that we specifically address teas, chocolates, etc., and make sure that the weight of the carrier material isn’t counted towards the total weight.

For handy reference, here’s a chart of the personal limits, and the amended language linked above makes clear that for group use it’s multiplied by the number of people in that group, that one person can produce, transport and gift medicine for; and that person can supply multiple groups and transport/gift correspondingly more quantities.

DMT 2 grams
Ibogaine 15 grams
LSD 0.01 grams
Psilocybin 2 grams or 4 ounces of plant or fungi (113 grams)
Psilocyn 2 grams or 4 ounces of plant or fungi (113 grams)
MDMA 4 grams
Mescaline 4 grams

There is also absolutely no requirement for licenses to grow, transport, gift, facilitate, or so on. I believe DN’s leadership understands this, but is choosing to misrepresent in order to paint me and others in as villainous a way as possible. We are navigating the real terrain that Senator Wiener communicated we had to. Rather than accept reality and navigate it, DN chose to grandstand and posture so they don’t have to make the hard compromises and choices to get this over the finish line. They’ve also been spinning off-base conspiracy theories that we are trying to monopolize and profit off medicine, which is similar to how they reacted when the National Council of the Native American Churches advised that they did not want peyote included in the effort: rather than accept this, DN leadership threw a social media tantrum and accused me of trying to monopolize and profit off peyote. In both cases it is deflection from reality and false. If Senator Wiener saw merit in delaying and holding out for no limits then we would have followed him on that; but insofar as he said there’s no other way then we followed his expertise, experience and leadership. And we are preserving the core goal of protecting group ceremonial healing, and protecting the production, transport and gifting of the quantities of medicine involved.

It’s also the case that any local city remains totally free to have no limits for local enforcement, and nothing changes in the city of Oakland.  We look forward to making history in California before year’s end, protecting and promoting individual and community-based healing with our sacred medicinal allies.

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David Bronner

David Bronner is Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, the grandson of company founder, Emanuel Bronner, and a fifth-generation soap maker. He is a dedicated vegan and enjoys surfing and dancing late into the night.

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