California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed two bills Saturday that would have made California the first U.S. state to, and would have decriminalized the possession and personal use of several hallucinogens, including psychedelic mushrooms.
Thewould have allowed those 21 and older to possess psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component in what’s known as psychedelic mushrooms. It also would have covered dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and mescaline.
Newsom said the caste bill was unnecessary, saying California already has protections in place.
Why did the decriminalization of hallucinogens, including psychedelic mushrooms bill get vetoed?
The bill would not have legalized the sale of the substances and would have barred any possession of the substances on school grounds. Instead, it would have ensured people are neither arrested nor prosecuted for possessing limited amounts of plant-based hallucinogens. Newsom, a Democrat who championed legalizing cannabis in 2016, said in a statement Saturday that more needs to be done before California decriminalizes the hallucinogens.
“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,” Newsom’s statement said. “Unfortunately, this bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign it.”
Even if California made the bill a law, the drugs would still be illegal under federal law.
In recent years,, including post-traumatic stress disorder. The Federal Drug Administration designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for treatment-resistant depression in 2019 and recently published a draft guideline on using psychedelics in clinical trials.
Public opinion on psychedelics, which have been mostly associated with 1960s drug culture, has also shifted to support therapeutic use. Supporters of the legislation include veterans, who have talked about the benefits of using psychedelics to treat trauma and other illnesses.
“Psilocybin gave me my life back,” Joe McKay, a retired New York City firefighter who responded to the 9/11 attacks, said at an Assembly hearing in July. “No one should go to jail for using this medicine to try to heal.”
But opponents said the drugs’ benefits are still largely unknown, and the bill could lead to more crimes – though studies in recent years have shown decriminalization does not increase crime rates. Organizations representing parents also worry the legislation would make it easier for children and young people to access the drugs.
Why did the caste discrimination bill get vetoed?
Earlier this year, Seattle became the first U.S. city to add caste to its anti-discrimination laws. On Sept. 28, Fresno became the second U.S. city andbased on caste by adding caste and indigeneity to its municipal code.
In his message, Newsom called the bill “unnecessary,”“already prohibits discrimination based on sex , race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed.”
“Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary,” he said in the statement.
A United Nations report in 2016 said at least 250 million people worldwide still face caste discrimination in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Pacific regions, as well as in various diaspora communities. Caste systems are found among Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Sikhs. Caste is a division of people related to birth or descent. Those at the lowest strata of the caste system, known as Dalits, have been pushing for legal protections in California and beyond. They say it is necessary to protect them from bias in housing, education and in the tech sector – where they hold key roles.
In March, state Sen. Aisha Wahab, the first Muslim and Afghan American elected to the California Legislature, introduced the bill. The California law would have included caste as a sub-category under “ethnicity” — a protected category under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Opponents, including some Hindu groups, called the proposed legislation “unconstitutional” and have said it would unfairly target Hindus and people of Indian descent. The issue has divided the Indian American community.