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

The California Assembly 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.

In a 58-0 vote on Tuesday, the chamber cleared the legislation from Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R), sending it to the Senate. This comes weeks after two Assembly committees unanimously advanced the measure.

“These therapies have the potential to save countless lives,” Waldron said on the floor. “As we know, California is experiencing a severe mental health crisis with rising rates of anxiety, depression, substance use, PTSD, suicide and other debilitating conditions. AB 941 proposes a solution to this crisis through the exploration of the therapeutic possibilities of psychedelic-assisted therapy.”

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.

“We need the data, the research and the recommendations of experts in this promising field of therapeutics,” Waldron said. “Above all, AB 941 is a proactive and forward-thinking approach to the mental health crisis in California—and key to unlocking the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for use in clinical settings. We must prioritize the accessibility of innovative treatments for our frontline heroes, veterans and first responders who urgently need these transformative interventions.”

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 also comes as the sponsor works with Sen. Scott Wiener (D) on separate legislation to establish a broader therapeutic access model for psychedelics in California.

Waldron has 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.”

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.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.—

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 elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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