Psychedelics Policy Newsletter: California’s steps after bill vetoed, Kentucky ibogaine funds, and more
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Psychedelics Policy Newsletter

Psychedelics Policy Newsletter: California’s steps after bill vetoed, Kentucky ibogaine funds, and more

Plus: New Drug Policy Handbook, the latest on implementing Colorado's legalization, and more.

Welcome to Reason Foundation’s new newsletter on psychedelics policy news and analysis. This first edition covers key developments from August through October 2023. Topics include:

  • California’s path forward on psychedelic decriminalization 
  • Psychedelics policy roundup from Colorado, Kentucky, and Massachusetts
  • Diverse coalition releases Drug Policy Handbook
  • Kentucky ibogaine proposal offers an innovative approach to the opioid crisis
  • News notes

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California’s Next Steps After Psychedelic Decriminalization Bill Vetoed 

California’s legislature recently became the first in the nation to pass a bill legalizing the personal possession of some botanical psychedelics. Senate Bill 58 would have allowed limited possession of psilocybin, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) but was vetoed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. 

The governor’s veto letter calls on the legislature to send him another bill next year that prioritizes a regulated therapeutic market before the state allows decriminalization. Meanwhile, in response to Gov. Newsom’s veto, a California-based psychedelic church, Ambrosia, started a drive for a ballot proposition that would create a regulated market for a wide variety of psychedelics. You can read the proposition language here. Separately, Treatment, Research, Education, Access, and Therapies (TREAT) California has withdrawn its proposed ballot initiative that attempted to establish an agency to oversee billions in scientific research earmarked for psychedelics. 

To help outline a set of options for the state legislature and other interested stakeholders as they consider the next steps, Reason Foundation recently published a list of promising policy approaches that would create safe, legal access to psychedelics in California. 

November 2023 State Psychedelics Policy Roundup

Reason Foundation’s Psychedelics Policy Project just launched the first in a series of regular reviews of critical state-level activity on psychedelics policy and regulatory action, intended for policy experts who are closely tracking this emerging policy issue. The series will review various activities, including psychedelics policy proposals, public agency and legislative committee hearings, analysis of state legislation, and more

The first edition reviews Colorado’s implementation of Proposition 122 and its regulatory rulemaking process, the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Commission’s latest hearings on ibogaine, and a proposed psychedelics ballot measure in Massachusetts.

Diverse Coalition Releases Drug Policy Legalization Handbook

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the National Coalition for Drug Legalization, the National Survivors Union, and Reason Foundation recently published a new handbook on drug legalization to help guide future drug policy reforms. The handbook, which also features scholars from Harvard University and the Cato Institute, outlines a regulatory pathway for the legalization of all drugs, including psychedelics. Lead author Geoffrey Lawrence points out that a “legal and regulated market for drugs—even hard drugs—could better address the underlying concerns of every relevant party in the drug debate” than prohibition, including concerns about overdose, addiction, and youth access.

Kentucky Ibogaine Proposal Offers Innovative Approach to Opioid Crisis

The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission proposed allocating a small slice of opioid settlement funds toward medical research to evaluate further the effectiveness of ibogaine in treating opioid addiction. The money comes from a legal settlement with pharmaceutical companies convicted of deceptive marketing practices intended to conceal prescription opioids’ addictive potential and would likely be matched by private investors. A new Reason Foundation commentary highlights research on the compound ibogaine showing promise as an opioid addiction treatment and how Kentucky could lead the nation in exploring a promising new solution. 

News Notes

California Congressman Proposes Legislation To Protect State Jurisdiction

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) introduced the Validating Independence on State Initiatives on Organic Natural Substances (VISIONS) Act to protect states’ constitutional jurisdiction to implement psilocybin laws. It simply says that federal funds cannot be used to contravene states like Colorado or Oregon, which have enacted laws to legalize some psychedelics in limited circumstances. The bill is similar to the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment, a federal budget rider that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute individuals following state medical cannabis laws. The bill likely has a low probability of passage, given the current political composition of the U.S. House. 

Canadian Senate Committee Report Recommends Researching Psychedelic Therapy for Veterans

The Canadian Senate’s Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs issued a report last week urging federal, provincial, and territorial governments to initiate a large-scale research program on psychedelic-assisted therapy as a means to tackle high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide among veterans. The subcommittee stopped short of recommending a policy framework for legal, regulated access to psychedelic-assisted therapy, instead suggesting a robust research program to explore the effectiveness of different therapy modalities in improving mental health outcomes among veterans.

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