Another California Assembly Committee Unanimously Approves Bill To Create Psychedelics Workgroup And Prepare For Legal Therapeutic Access

Another California Assembly committee has unanimously approved a Republican-led bill to create a state workgroup that would be tasked with exploring a regulatory framework to provide therapeutic access to psychedelics like psilocybin and ibogaine.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the legislation from Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R) in a 11-0 vote on Thursday. It’s now expected to go to the floor before potentially moving to the Senate.

If the legislature were to enact a regulatory framework as recommended by the workgroup, which would be situated under the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), the bill would also allow health practitioners to lawfully administer psychedelics in a therapeutic setting.

The version of the legislation that is moving forward has been amended from what Waldron initially introduced last year, which focused exclusively on psychedelics-assisted therapy for military veterans. But the revision comes as the sponsor works with Sen. Scott Wiener (D) on separate legislation to establish a broader therapeutic access model for psychedelics in California.

“These therapies have the potential to save countless lives,” Waldron said earlier this month before the bill cleared the Health Committee.

However, the sponsor emphasized that this is a “true study bill” and that “no one will be treated with psychedelics under the bill.” That said, while the measure wouldn’t automatically allow therapeutic access to psychedelics, it does say it would become lawful if the legislature adopts a regulatory framework as recommended by the workgroup.

Accordingly, psychedelic-assisted therapy is defined as “supervised, lawful medical use of a controlled substance for treatment, including, but not limited to, group counseling and community-based healing, under the care of, administration by, and treatment of a licensed professional in a clinical setting.”

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Meanwhile, Wiener says the bill he’s partnering with Waldron on will be introduced in the coming weeks.

The senator has been pushing for psychedelics reform over the past few legislative cycles, with his bill to legalize certain entheogenic substances passing the legislature last year, only to be vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). In his veto message, the governor encouraged lawmakers to send an alternative proposal to his desk that focuses on therapeutic access—and that’s what Wiener and Waldron are aiming to do with a measure that is still forthcoming.

In the meantime, Waldron’s newly revised measure is designed to be more limited than what the bipartisan duo plan to soon introduce.

It would require the CalHHS to establish a workgroup “to study and make recommendations on the establishment of a framework governing psychedelic-assisted therapy,” the legislative summary says.

“The bill would require that workgroup to send a report to the Legislature containing those recommendations on or before January 1, 2026,” it says. And if the legislature does enact a framework for psychedelics-assisted therapy, it would “authorize a facilitator in a licensed facility to administer specified controlled substances to combat veterans.”

Wiener told Marijuana Moment earlier this month that his partner on the broader push informed him that her revised legislation is being moved “as a backup to our bill, not in lieu” of it. He said the plan is to introduce their separate bipartisan measure later this month or early February.

The state is at an “inflection point” on psychedelics reform, the senator said at an event last month, adding that he understood the governor’s primary contention with his last bill was with provisions to legalize low-level possession of certain psychedelics.

Separately, a California campaign to put psilocybin legalization on the state’s November ballot recently announced that it did not secure enough signature to qualify in time for a deadline.

Another campaign filed and then abruptly withdrew an initiative to create a $5 billion state agency tasked with funding and promoting psychedelics research last year.

A third campaign also entered the mix late last year, proposing to legalize the possession and cultivation of substances like psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline. People could buy them for therapeutic use with a doctor’s recommendation. Advocates for that measure still have time to gather and turn in signatures.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has since released its review of that proposal, outlining not only the plan’s policy implications but also its potential fiscal impacts on the state—which the report calls “various” and “uncertain.”

Some California municipalities, meanwhile, are pushing forward with reform on the local level. The city of Eureka, for example, adopted a resolution in October to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi and make enforcement of laws against personal use, cultivation and possession a low priority for police. It’s at least the fifth local jurisdiction in the state to embrace the policy change. Others include San FranciscoOaklandSanta Cruz and Arcata.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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