Decriminalizing Psychedelic Drugs in California: As Senate Considers Bill, Debate Continues


A invoice to decriminalize psychedelic medicine is at the moment being thought of by the California state legislature.

Senate Bill 519, launched by State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), would permit docs to prescribe psychedelics for treating psychological well being issues comparable to despair and PTSD. It will additionally permit psychedelics for private use, and expunge felony information for individuals with prior convictions for possession.

Earlier this week, the journal Nature Drugs revealed outcomes of a study using the psychedelic drug MDMA, generally known as ecstasy, to deal with post-traumatic stress dysfunction amongst analysis contributors who acquired the drug. Together with counseling, 67% felt their situation had improved to the extent that they not certified for a prognosis of PTSD.

This research provides to a small however rising physique of scientific literature exploring using psychedelics like MDMA, LSD and psilocybin as remedy for a variety of psychological well being situations, together with despair, consuming issues and end-of-life nervousness. The invoice now working its approach by means of the California Legislature goals to construct on this momentum.

Whereas many veterans and drug advocacy teams help the invoice, opponents say that if it passes within the Senate, the laws will trigger a rise within the variety of psychedelic medicine bought and recreationally used. KQED Forum host April Dembosky spoke to the next voices on this debate:

  • Juliana Mercer, a Marine Corps veteran who used psychedelic remedy to beat her trauma from her time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Sen. Scott Wiener, California State Senate
  • Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, former president of the American Psychiatric Affiliation and chair of the Division of Psychiatry at Columbia College.
  • Larry Morse, legislative director, California District Lawyer’s Affiliation
  • Dr. Robert Grant, professor of drugs at UC San Francisco and outstanding tutorial voice round decriminalization and psychedelic remedy

The next interview has been edited for size and readability.

A Veteran’s Private Expertise

Juliana Mercer graduated army boot camp one week earlier than September 11, 2001, and served in the US Marines for 16 years. She served two excursions of obligation, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Juliana Mercer, veteran: Between Iraq and Afghanistan, the place I noticed the traumas of conflict in between these two deployments, I spent 5 years working with our wounded in San Diego on the Naval Hospital, and I did every little thing that was non-medical for serving to them in a holistic solution to get again into their lives with their accidents.

Throughout these 5 years I noticed the direct results of conflict; not simply the bodily trauma, however the psychological trauma. And I did my job day by day and did it fortunately as a result of I used to be serving to my brothers and sisters. However dropping fairly a couple of fellow Marines and different veterans to suicide between two conflict deployments actually took a toll on me.

I did not notice that that they had taken a toll on me as a result of I used to be doing my job day by day. A couple of years after exiting the service and persevering with to work with nonprofits that assist veterans, I felt simply this lack of function. Though I used to be doing purposeful work, I had a lack of who my genuine self was. My first interplay with these medicines actually opened up the acknowledgment that I had suffered lots of loss, and there was lots of grief in there. It began to assist me unpack the entire grief that I had, and hadn’t revisited as a result of I used to be so busy doing my job and caring for my Marines.


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