California bills to allow psychedelics and cannabis cafes head to Newsom

September 08, 2023 07:55 AM

(The Center Square) – Psychedelics and cannabis cafes could soon be allowed in California if two bills are signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Under SB 58, authored by Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, a limited set of naturally occurring psychedelics with high safety profiles including psilocybin/psilocin (mushrooms), Dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), and mescaline (excluding peyote) would be decriminalized. SB 58 would also trigger a regulatory process to craft policy proposals for group therapeutic use of psychedelics, as compounds such as psilocybin have demonstrated potential use as effective therapies for hard-to-treat cases of addiction, depression, and end-of-life anxiety.

A similar measure proposed by Wiener passed the Senate but failed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in 2021. Now that both houses of the State Legislature have passed the bill, it now heads to the governor’s desk for final approval or veto.

“We know these substances are not addictive, and they show tremendous promise in treating many of the most intractable conditions driving our nation’s mental health crisis,” Wiener said in a public statement. “It’s time to stop criminalizing people who use psychedelics for healing or personal well-being.”

Under AB 374, licensed cannabis retailers could — with local approval — become cannabis cafes, selling non-cannabis food and non-alcoholic beverages and hosting live music and other events. The bill has significant support from Republicans and passed the State Senate with only three votes in opposition. Should the amended bill pass the Assembly again in the concurrence vote, it would then go to the governor’s desk.

“If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to also sell a cup of coffee and a sandwich, we should allow cities to make that possible and stop holding back these small businesses,” said bill author Senator Matt Haney, D-San Francisco in a public statement.

Critics note that there is no legal limit for THC — an active compound in marijuana that makes one high — in one’s bloodstream to drive in California, even though 18 states have some limit on the amount of THC in one’s blood for one to be considered under the influence.

“We’ve shown that the impairment of driving behavior lasts a few hours at most, whereas the THC persists in the person’s system much, much longer than that,” said Yale University Professor Godfrey Pearlson, who is conducting studies on THC and driving for the National Highway Traffic Association, to CBS News. “If there was a limit, perhaps people would stop and think before they did it, and maybe more lives would be saved.”