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California State Legislator Introduces Bill to Decriminalize Psychedelics (maps.org)
329 points by sep_field 62 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 144 comments



Psychedelics are not without risks, but the risks are for me a deal breaker when they are illegal.

There are too many ‘designer drugs’ out there with unknown properties that are sold by misrepresenting what they are.

LSD25, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT these are drugs with known risks and side effects, and there has been legitimate investigation into their benefits. It would be great if we could legally continue to gather data.

So far, it seems these substances are arguably much less dangerous than many illegal substances. I would be in favor of legalizing all of them.

Decriminalizing seems to be a necessary step in that direction, but it doesn’t allow for quality control. Legalization allows for real and enforceable disclosure about what I might be putting in my body.

I hope we get there someday.

Edit: and possibly less dangerous than some legal substances.


People are getting hurt by the black market. We need to bring this into the light. I know someone who died from taking what he thought was LSD and was instead some kind of designer drug like 25I-NBOME.


N-Bombs are messed up, there is one variant that gives instant permanent parkinson's disease!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPTP

There is so much to learn from these things, the cure for natural parkison's is probably within that drug, but we need the whole supply chain regulated and the ability to study these things in the light.

I absolutely hate the current status of the psychedelic community, full of anecdotes, invalidating victim's experiences, some straight up voodoo about how to "end trips early" with candy flipping. Dangerous. All because it relies on urban legends.


> some straight up voodoo about how to "end trips early"

The proper way to do it is to use a drug that's a 5-HT2a antagonist with a stronger affinity to that receptor than the psychedelic. Trazodone or Seroquel are commonly prescribed ones that have a pretty low side effect profile and can be found at any pharmacy.


Pedantic quibble, MPTP is not an NBOMe: MPTP is opioid-adjacent. Though, your point stands: they are both certainly quite dangerous substances that are among the reasons that testing drugs is an important harm reduction measure.


Always. Test. Your shit.

I wish there was more advocacy around this. DanceSafe [1] sells inexpensive kits that people can use to test against most of the bad stuff (like NBOMEs).

[1] https://dancesafe.org/


I'm a big fan of what DanceSafe has been doing, although their reagent test kits are extremely expensive considering how cheap they are to manufacture. Their Marquis reagent costs $20 plus shipping and consists of 2 drops of formaldehyde in 3ml of sulfuric acid. Tremendous margins for a group that should want everyone and their grandma to have a testing kit.


Yep, it isn't cheap, but compared to the peace of mind of knowing you won't die from ingesting some crap, $20 sounds like a deal!

Kidding aside, I'm not sure what margins they are running on. I can't imagine they are selling enough kits that lowering the price wouldn't it make it impossible for them to exist.


How often does someone get killed by an up-market dealer? I have no doubt that it happens but most of the deaths I read about look like street drugs or maybe somebody who scored in the bathroom at a bar or club.


Not totally sure what you mean by up market? Like not a sketchy street corner guy but someone that sells bulk?

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ut/pr/shamo-sentenced-life-pris...


That guy was selling fentanyl-laced oxy. I’m asking about something along the lines of the likelihood that one of my rich bro friends gets killed by his regular coke dealer.


Depends how desperate your bro's regular coke dealer or his dealer gets. I've heard first hand tales of dealers ending up with bricks of straight filler, like no coke, and passing it off to their customers, even high end ones, because if they didn't they'd be out a whole bunch of money.

Also another second hand anecdote, most coke you buy in America or Canada is probably not pure. Even when getting supposedly pure coke. I've heard what they have in south america and mexico in certain places is nothing like what they have up here.

No speediness, you can sleep, no cravings or come down.


> and there has been legitimate investigation into their benefits.

I'm pro-legalization and all for rigorous study of these compounds. That said, the recent headlines about psychedelic research have started to diverge from what the research actually says.

For example, recent headlines claimed that MDMA was shown to be beneficial for certain types of therapy. However, the actually study wasn't designed to show if MDMA was helpful, it was only designed as a proof of concept to show that it wasn't harmful. The study protocol involved something like 20 therapy sessions, only 2 of which involved MDMA. Most of the measured benefit happened before any patients took any MDMA at all, and the data didn't show any measured boost around the MDMA sessions. They also gave MDMA to every study participant instead of only half, meaning it was impossible to determine if the MDMA made a difference relative to non-MDMA controls.

The only thing they really measured was that MDMA didn't produce any immediately obvious problems, such as causing patients to withdraw from the program. Safety studies like this are an important first step, but they don't tell us if MDMA is actually helpful.

However, all of the headlines around the study proclaimed "MDMA shown to help treat PTSD". All of the internet comment sections were filled with people wondering if they should take MDMA to treat their PTSD. Really, the only thing the study showed was that traditional therapy produces measurable improvements in the condition, and that MDMA didn't interrupt those improvements.

I'm worried that the exuberance to paint psychedelic drugs as miracle cures is going to backfire in a few years if the eventual study data doesn't live up to the hype.


I'm confused... Are you saying the ongoing MAPS FDA Phase 3 trials [0] are more about safety than efficacy? The whole point of Phase 3 trials is to prove efficacy.

Additionally, earlier studies [1] measured the participant's CAPS (Clinician Administered PTSD Scale) pre and post treatment which showed pretty significant results.

[0] https://maps.org/research/mdma/ptsd/phase3/timeline [1] https://maps.org/news/media/7538-reason-ptsd-study-finds-dra...


There have been a -lot- [0] of MDMA studies at this point, for PTSD and other issues. In particular a common finding is that the efficacy of MDMA+Therapy 1 year post-treatment is far higher than therapy alone (significant reduction in relapse of symptoms as well as severity of symptoms). I encourage you to look at the variety of studies conducted and their different designs and controls and not base your judgement on a single study (this is good advice for any medical research, not only MDMA, as well).

[0] https://maps.org/research/mdma


Yes, and I read them all as they come out, including the MAPS studies. My point still stands: The studies, to date, appear to be structured in ways that primarily explore the potential downsides rather than exploring relative efficacy. Not all of them, of course, but it is a common theme.


I did my fair share of psychedelics a few years ago. The community is very diverse and spans a lot of different backgrounds.

One thing I repeatedly saw was those with weaker minds getting sucked into the "oneness spirituality psychic-plane we-are-just-vibrations" bullshit. I watched a smart young lady drop out of university to become a psychic. I watched an acquaintance get divorced because she realized she had sacred powers, saying "my husband drains my energy and he's why could never levitate". I'm struggling to pull my partner out of this hole after she has spent close to $10,000 on building a "vibration healing" business.

I've done just as many drugs as these people, yet I never fell to these delusions. Sure, there are people who get sucked in to this stuff without the drugs, but I can't help but notice the correlation.

My biggest concern with legalizing LSD and psilocybin is that we don't have a good way to combat these delusions when people take them on.


You are right that it's easier to note a correlation. But you are kinda standing on one side of the line regarding prohibition and that's the side of "regulated medical use", which is almost the same thing.

I could argue that they don't have weaker minds, they have neurodivergent personality types that predispose them to isolationist behaviors either like hermit-type or narcissistic delusions. You don't know what would have happened if they didn't do that, sometimes a religious experience just makes you pull the trigger on a change you subconsciously want, faster.

You don't know if your friend was going to do well in University, or become a rogue professional that wants to follow her instinct because of how smart she is and ends up building a career on bullshitting everyone. You don't know if your acquaintance was going to cheat on her husband and commit suicide. It could have happened, it didn't, something else happened because they decided to live their life differently after they took an entheogen, you don't know if it was better or worse and it was their probably conscious choice.

I have very close friends that left "normal life" after drug induced religious experience, like very close, from childhood, friends. I know how fucked up their lives were because we've been like brothers since we were kids or because we became super close as teens, they were fucked up. They were in school like you say or they were having what seems like a normal life with their girlfriends, but the scars of abuse on their minds were not closed. Yeah one is a shaman now and the other one is a monk and the other one is a mathematician, they are all completely isolated from reality and it's really hard to have a normal conversation with them. But they are happy and they feel well, which is what for me matters.


Be careful with correlation and causation here. A lot of the people I knew in the psychedelic trance scene were already heavily into various forms of spirituality before they started using drugs.


Or was predisposed for mental illness.


That may be true, but it doesn't lessen the risks. People who are predisposed to mental illness don't necessarily know that they're predisposed to mental illness.

If we're going to have honest discussions about the risks, it's important that we avoid blaming the victims by post-facto assuming that people harmed by a drug somehow had it coming due to an invisible predisposition. It doesn't change the math at all.


If after taking psychedelics safely and guided by a community that does them responsibly they discover that they are predisposed to mental illness earlier than just waiting and getting symptoms because their brains deteriorate with age, then that's a good and not a bad thing.


A predisposition doesn't mean someone is destined to become ill, and it also doesn't dictate the severity of the illness should one arise.

The problem is that psychedelics can induce mental illness in those who might have never become ill, and psychedelics can induce severe psychotic disorders in people who would have otherwise lived normal lives.


These kind of delusions seem to be ego-syntonic, so discovering them about yourself won't lead you to get them treated. You have to force it on people if it shows up.


How is it good?


They can start therapy or get psychiatric help sooner, or make lifestyle changes sooner that will result in them living a fuller life of being present for more of it.

Contrary to what you read or hear around some places, we don't know if psychedelics "accelerate" the onset of symptoms of degenerative mental conditions. For example you may experience schizophrenia-like symptoms under the influence of LSD and while that may be a warning that you need to see if you will actually develop "natural" schizophrenia, maybe you will never do. But maybe you will! and you would have never known without that "bad trip". It's true that there's a lot of anecdotal evidence of subjects that don't "come back" after a psychedelic induced breakdown, particularly when they are in the bipolar spectrum. But most people, even the ones that actually have mental conditions, do come back and a lot of them report it helps with symptoms or commodities: most notable depression or social anxiety but sometimes also paranoia, suicidal idealization or intent to harm others.

If you are interested in the connection between psychedelic use and mental illness you should look into the work of researchers that adhere to the psychotomimetic theory of the drug/brain interaction. A good recent place to start is this compilation: https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780128047910/the-complex...

While it's on cannabis use, for which we have way more evidence of it causing early onset of degenerative mental conditions than psychedelics (even LSD), it does reference a lot of studies about the effects of psychedelic experiences in individuals prone to neurodivergency.


> we don't know if psychedelics "accelerate" the onset of symptoms of degenerative mental conditions. For example you may experience schizophrenia-like symptoms under the influence of LSD and while that may be a warning that you need to see if you will actually develop "natural" schizophrenia, maybe you will never do. But maybe you will!

This sounds like there is only downside risk.

Schizophrenia can be hard to treat. Bringing it on ‘early’ seems like just losing good years, even more so if there is a chance it would never have developed at all.


Schizophrenia is impossible to treat. You deal with the symptoms with drugs or a support group.

As I said there's no solid evidence that psychedelics bring anything early or make you develop something that you wouldn't have. It could be argued that they make it easy to manifest a tendency to go into certain mental states that a "typical" person would not go into, but it would be hard to find a case of someone that went schizo on psychedelics by only a few uses and really didn't come back.

Of course if you develop an addiction, or abuse them and repeatedly mix and binge them with other drugs in crazy intense environments after those first experiences, they are going to break you. But that downside risk is not exclusive for psychedelic drugs and does not warrant spending inordinate amounts of resources and wasted opportunities by keeping them totally illegal or tightly controlled.

In any case, the reason to make some of this drugs illegal is that they allegedly pose no medicinal use at all and that recreational use is terribly dangerous for society. The first one is totally false, there's even ongoing promising medical research with psychedelics even though they are illegal! The second one is close to what you are arguing about, and honestly the reasons why this may pose a danger to society is more because society sucks and not because the drugs suck. What we should make illegal is abandoning people because they have a mental disease, not drugs.


I don’t know why you are talking about whether drugs should be illegal or not - that seems like a different issue.

If you are seriously claiming that there is no risk to someone who is predisposed to schizophrenia taking LSD, I think you are spreading dangerous bullshit.

Certainly all of MAPS clinical studies screen such people out of LSD trials, because there is a risk.

Triggering a psychotic episode in a schizophrenic person is about the worst thing you can do for them.


> If you are seriously claiming that there is no risk to someone who is predisposed to schizophrenia taking LSD, I think you are spreading dangerous bullshit.

I'm saying we don't know, so yeah there's a risk but there's also a risk they are beneficial and we will never know.

> Certainly all of MAPS clinical studies screen such people out of LSD trials, because there is a risk.

It's not only because there is a risk, as I said there's only anecdotal evidence for that. I think the main reason MAPS clinical studies screen people with schizo tendencies and also bipolar is because those studies are to deal with certain PTSD and ASD symptoms and test subjects with "comorbidities" would ruin their experiments because of how low n is.


> My biggest concern with legalizing LSD and psilocybin is that we don't have a good way to combat these delusions when people take them on.

You are falling for the classic delusion that drug prohibition prevents drug use; even after illustrating multiple times how false that assertion is.


I'm not advocating for prohibition, just asking "what are we going to do with the next problem that comes after legalization?"


We need a social context for how and when to take them (beyond "let's partee!"). If you look at cultures with a long history of psychedelic practice, the use tends to be very ritualized, with a lot of specific context as to when they are taken, how often, and for what purposes. There is also substantial effort taken to integrate the experiences.

If you just take a bunch of stuff at a party and believe everything you experience is literally true, sure you are in a risky position. We need to push people towards communally-meaningful experiences with integration afterwards, and away from just blasting their minds into space willy-nilly.

We can't do this while they are illegal though. Keeping them illegal encourages the worst kinds of uses, with no oversight or integration or cultural meaning.


The cultures with a long history of psychedelic practice are just as bad for spiritualist bullshit as this new age culture. Actually, most of the bullshit these New Spiritualists spout is taken directly from these cultures; chakras, spirits, "bad energy", shamanism, etc. all comes from those cultures.


there are some people but from my experience not many people abuse psychedelics compared to other drugs


I don't think that's a problem with psychedelic drugs so much as people fitting their experiences into pre-existing molds that only prospered because of their illegality (so the experiential dialogue around the drugs is biased towards the small set that take them, which generationally reify the lore).

I think it's especially worse with psychedelics because the experiences tend to be hard to articulate into language so people take those experiences and relate them to their ideas of God or extra-dimensional beings or the hippie culture we're often taught prospered in the 60s.


Yep. I never took psychedelics, but I spent a decent amount of my time in meditation.

I think these drugs can be very beneficial if you use them to "expand your mind". But the cases you mention above are almost the opposite. Instead of an expanded, non-attached viewpoint these people formed new and even stronger attachments.

In the end it's more than just legalization. Regulation and quality control are key factors as well. You easily kill yourself with alcohol, but due to regulation, quality control (and experience in society) we can manage the risks vs the rewards.


Similarly, there is way too much emphasis on taking heroic doses, or achieving "ego death." When someone gives a trip report after some reasonable dose, say 150ug of LSD, almost always someone will egg them on that they really should be doing much more than that if they really want to experience what it has to offer.

Chainsaws are really great tools and I'm glad I have one, but every time I use it I treat it with respect and view it with a healthy amount of fear of what can go wrong.


Not saying anything you've said is wrong, or even that what I'm saying is true in all cases...

I feel like many of the people who get sucked in are the ones who were drawn to using the drugs as a way to find something to believe in, or because they felt they had nothing to believe in. They found a community that accepted them and the drugs made them feel good. To an extent, people in religions, political parties, etc can fall into a similar (usually less severe) beliefs and practices.


Harm reduction is the name of the game.

We already allow many many many things that are more harmful. Most of the people on the planet even consider those things part of their identity.

I'm not claiming that because we allow more harmful things we should allow LSD too, nor I'm certain that trying to stop LSD usage is more harmful than allowing it, but it'd be great to get these things figured out and then do the "right thing" (ie. pick the less harmful one) instead of guessing and hypothesizing.

And on top of this, restricting freedoms should not be the default, and even then people should be free to create responsible ways to enjoy things. (There's both a speed and drinking limit on the road, but we have racetracks and we have clubs/concerts/festivals, and we usually don't mix them. Similarly, living on a ranch and singing kumbayaa or building a total anarchist/communist community is a-okay, but not allowing people to leave is not - cough Scientology et al.)


> One thing I repeatedly saw was those with weaker minds getting sucked into the "oneness spirituality psychic-plane we-are-just-vibrations" bullshit.

I'm going to be bold here and posit that the 'trip' allowed them to ideate on a specific type of dissociated state of mind that they first experienced through some past trauma.


The first time I had a flashback to a real life near death experience was scary. I can't imagine how weird it would be to relieve repressed psychological abuse and how hard your instictive defense mechanisms would fight it.

That being said that's not the only path to getting sucked into bullshit by a trip. You can create a narrative were some enhanced perception effects, like being more sensitive to gestures or actual real visual resolution enhancement, are some kind of superpower you have and others don't. That will sometimes lead you on a "fake path to enlightenment" in like pseudo buddhist terms. You can get sucked into some kind of narcissistic delusional state, no trauma required, and it can cause you great harm.


> One thing I repeatedly saw was those with weaker minds getting sucked into the "oneness spirituality psychic-plane we-are-just-vibrations" bullshit.

One of the biggest challenges with online drug discourse is that discussing negative side effects is not welcomed. The discussion is too entangled with legalization, leading to a lot of defensive responses trying to dismiss or downplay risks.

Discussions of legalization aside, I agree that psychedelics aren't as as harmless as internet discourse suggests. There is a massive difference between someone being given psychedelics in the presence of a trained therapist once or twice in their life and someone taking LSD hundreds of times alone in a recreational manner. We have to be honest that excessive psychedelic use comes with significant risks that aren't always apparent to the users.


i am concern is we will make more people anti war and the military industrial complex won't enough people to send to countless wars. This is what happened in the 70's.

What your are saying 100% didn't happen because of the drugs, these people where already like that, they just used the experience to validate their nonsense


I dunno, we currently have plenty of people falling down the QAnon hole, and that doesn’t seem to be related to drugs at all as far as I can see.


I generally agree with you, but I think decriminalizing is not only good first step, but does itself allow for a small amount of quality control. For instance if MDMA is decriminalized, but PMA (something you very much would prefer not to ingest but is nevertheless sometimes sold as MDMA) is not, then people holding PMA would still be at legal risk. Over time this should tilt the scales in favor of the decriminalized substances over counterfeits.


Just want to give a shout out to Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS, who has been fighting this fight since at least 1990.

He, like myself, is an alum of New College, a non-traditional college in Sarasota. He graduated I think the year before I matriculated, but his presence was well known on campus and his house was a legendary house he rented out to a few students every semester.

To be clear, MAPS already existed back then, he was already working to get psychedelics (and entheogens such as MDMA) incorporated into therapeutic modalities.

Back then the idea of legalized psychedelics seemed like a pipe dream. To see his dreams begin to come to fruition 30 years later must be one of the most satisfying things a person can accomplish in his life.

My hat's off to Rick Doblin. What a mensch.


I attended a PCP (Palm Court Party) at New College in the early 90's. It was quite an experience and I've never forgotten it.


We may have been at the same one. Yep they were awesome.


Off-topic, but I wonder if decriminalizing all drugs will kill the cartel profits. From what I can see, they make a ton of profit due to the illegality(risk-profit) and this big profit is how they became so powerful. Food for thought I guess.


That isn't off topic at all.

One of the biggest motivations for decriminalization is to do disincentivize black markets.


Decriminalization? I don't think that removed black markets. You still need to purchase your drugs. You just don't get trouble for being the buyer or possessing it? Unless I misread this and they're going to have lsd and mdma stores in California?


Decriminalization is the first step to legalization. So, while we wont see psychedelic stores in CA tomorrow, we could see incremental regulation that eventually leads to literal LSD stores, killing the black market. Like cannabis dispensaries. Seems crazy to think that was possible 20 years ago, but I get weed delivered to me in Utah now, and get to work on the tech that enables that too.


There's no "cartel" behind psychedelics... honestly. All the way up the supply chain everyone is either poor as fuck or independently wealthy by other means.


No one in the middle?


Not by selling psychedelics, maybe yes in like, a chemical engineer working on a plant and side loading some production or making sure a package gets lost. But it's almost imposible to make a middle class normal life out of selling this stuff. The market is just not there.

For stimulants maybe and yeah your shady neighborhood cocaine dealer will probably get you some LSD and resell at a markup price after getting it from the friendly neighborhood psychonaut or public relations guy that needs to be stocked on MDMA for parties, but that's not their main job.


No drug dealer wants to sell psychedelics because your customers will act like morons, get arrested, and then snitch on you in their panicked, delirious state. I've seen it happen many times.

A single sheet goes for about 400$ in most places if you have good connections, or at least it used to. That's 100 doses, which is going to take a lot longer to run through compared a similar amount of weed, for example. So all around it's bad business, but somebody like Petaluma Al was probably making a decent living.


Hahaha yeah I mean not get them arrested but I heard really weird stories when people get delirious and think their dealers have some kind of magical power or connection to a secret society. I guess that's another reason why people that will sell you psychedelics usually do it for some kind of cause or to enhance another bussineses they have.


Got it, I thought you were saying that none of them were middle-class generally, didn’t realize you just meant no one being kept in the middle class by the work.


The thing is psy's generally aren't addictive so they're not that profitable. Marijuana and alcohol are way more habit-forming. People take LSD a few times, then it doesn't really work any more. Then there's the notion of you got the message/insights from the drug, time to hang up the phone.


Oh it keeps on working, you just have to learn how to "use it" and that's not something that your average dealer will tell you. But yeah LSD is great at getting you off other stuff so sometimes it's even bad bussineses if you like also sell cocaine. It's also hella dangerous combined with weed so if you deal weed dealing LSD too is like a really bad idea.

When I think psychedelic dealers I'm thinking more about MDMA which is/was kinda profitable and have customers coming back when we had parties and festivals.


> It's also hella dangerous combined with weed

I’ve never heard this before; it seems like something I should know; respecfully, would you mind elaborating?


I elaborated a bit below. It's basically a combination that for some people, with the right dosage and the right weed, can trigger a complete loss of control as in a NDE, breakthrough, dimensional travel, etc... experience. For those type of people, at certain doses that vary from person to person you should treat LSD+weed as if you were going for something like a DMT/ayahuasca/whatever "breakthrough" trip.

It's not super well known in the community nowadays and people going for the "psychonautic" exploratory experience use other drugs, but mostly any psychedelic if you edge it or do the right amount will take you "there". To do it with LSD you need to take like, a lot, but the LSD dose that will break you through if you also smoke weed at certain moments of the trip, is way lower, like 1/2 or 1/4 of a usual "heroic" dose.

If your mind is ready or open enough for this type of experiences you need to be careful, also if you are prone to psychosis or dissociation. It can be done safely but you need someone taking care of you, and also maybe prepare with the right diet and stuff like that. Also if you are trying it by upping the dose slightly you also have to be careful, because LSD+weed sometimes has a "reverse tolerance". Like, after an intense experience let's say on 150ug + a dab, your actual LSD "tolerance" may go lower as you are more "sensitive" or "open", and if you up it a bit to see what happens you will trigger a very intense out of body experience.

The "danger" of something like that is that you are usually not aware that your mind can do it, so it's kinda scary and intense. You can read about it but it's like for example reading about stuff like mental disease or orgasm vs. actually experiencing it. The raw realism of whatever place you "go to" and the intensity of the stuff you feel or you "know" is happening or will happen is always mind-blowing. Even after you've been through it a couple times.

The dangers of exposing yourself to this kind of experiences is that sometimes you bring "feelings" or ideas back, that don't integrate well with your daily life without help. There's an ancient term in the community which is "chasing the dragon", which reflects some kind of long-term manic quest to visit or meet some kind of entity of place or state of mind that's like the "ultimate high". It's not like, a super bad thing to do, but it doesn't integrate well with the life of most people and is generally regarded as an unhealthy obsession.


I don’t know about dangerous, but I found the combination extremely unpleasant back when I did such things.


As in body feelings or were you getting like severe paranoia or social anxiety? If it's body feelings meditation, a good diet, etc... helps, if you want to keep on doing it. If it's the other thing you just have to be very careful as you may loose control completely.

The reason to keep on doing it and learn how to deal with the body feelings it's because it's a very unique mind opening experience, only that it can be a bit too much. With the right set and setting and the right doses LSD+weed can be as "mind expanding" as ingesting DMT or a salvia breakthrough, or even wilder. If you don't have the right company it can be dangerous though as you will probably be very very very easy to influence, it's not uncommon to just hallucinate what other people tell you.


According to this chart, it is something that should be approached with caution: https://wiki.tripsit.me/images/3/3a/Combo_2.png


This is a good argument in general but unfortunately it depends on tax structures and other external forces. For instance, cannabis is legal in many states now yet cartels still distribute it at huge profits simply because the taxes are exorbitant and also that there are weird rules about who can buy how much when (example: prior to adult use laws I still purchased cannabis illegally even though I technically could have gotten a medical license because it was so complex to get one). So while I firmly believe the answer is yes, there is still a balancing act that needs to happen.


I don’t think it would.

Legalizing drugs would come at the cost of governments and cities taxing it and putting it above what price is on the street for cartel product. The cartels can easily undercut on price because they don’t pay any taxes.


Well, if the tax rate is lower than the cost of running a large organized crime organization and trafficking the drugs into the country, then the legal price may still be lower.

There's also the fact that buyers ALSO care about the risk. Many people will only purchase drugs legally, if given both options.


Which is why I dislike just decriminalization

It doesn't come with any consumer protections

I think the happy medium is legalization + a decriminalized framework

Many methods fail because the legalization-only path just creates a parallel criminal path


Cartels can't compete on quality or safety.

People are happy to pay a 28%+ tax here in CO for legalized, recreational marijuana - a relatively expensive-to-produce product.


Absolutely. I'm in my 40's, and not only was buying cannabis a little sketchy when I was younger, but you literally had no idea what you were getting: indica, sativa, percentage of THC, percentage of CBD, etc. It was all just a total crapshoot.


Which is why we all still buy moonshine at speakeasies instead of a pack of Bud Light at the supermarket, amirite?

Slightly more seriously, obviously people will continue to smuggle if there's a profit to be made, but a lot of consumers and producers will quite willingly switch to legal options if they can. Jail time is pretty expensive too.


Could the gov take over the production and then simply choke cartel profits?. They could make some small profit out of it to fund addiction health rehab programs. I'm just trying to find a different approach because the current war against them doesn't seem to be working.


Finally! The risk of getting an unclean drug from some street dealer is far higher than the risk from the substance itself. The key is legalization and regulation and quality control.

This is true to alcohol as well. Alcohol is ethanol (C2H5OH). When created unskillfully also you get methanol (CH3OH), which is really poisonous. A controlled, regulated market here is far safer.

Like with alcohol there is risk of abuse with psychedelics, but IMHO that risk is smaller than the risk of bad products from the black market.

Note that I am not talking about opiods. Those are very additive.


I agree that random drugs have more dangers. I've been watching with interest what has happened with pot in CO. For people who don't like to break the law, it has worked and been safer. However, it has come at a cost. All that testing and quality control and middlemen adds cost. Now buying the quality legal pot is way more expensive so people are going back to the black market. This is the big challenge. For the middle class people who want an occasional fix, legalization works out great for everyone. For the poor and desperate, not so much. I don't know how to solve it.


Isn't this a product of other states driving demand for illegal cannabis? If all states legalized, wouldn't the demand plummet and increase the price of illegal pot?


I'm not sure. There can be other reasons too like not wanting to be tracked by the government (depending on your job/career). Also, the city of Denver has a 20+% tax on weed sales. This causes a lot of variability in cost.


> This is true to alcohol as well. Alcohol is ethanol (C2H5OH). When created unskillfully also you get methanol (CH3OH), which is really poisonous. A controlled, regulated market here is far safer.

This is a misconception. Alcohol has to be adulterated for it to even approach having enough methanol to be harmful. The only methanol most homebrewers and moonshiners will get is in whatever was added to the wort in the first place, usually fruits or juice, but this is not enough to be harmful, not by a longshot. Even when it's distilled, it's in such sparse amounts that the ethanol acts as an antidote.

The stories of methanol poisonings from the prohibition era were a combination of crooked dealers stretching bootleg liquor with wood alcohol, people making stills from car parts(containing methanol among other things), and authorities adulterating bootleg liquor to discourage buyers.

If you've got a still made of copper or stainless steel, and you didn't pour antifreeze directly into your wash, you'll be fine. Now still explosions is a whole other thing, and is a better argument from a safety perspective. Homebrewers have even less to worry about; it's so insanely safe that they couldn't keep it illegal any longer.


There is absolutely enough methanol in badly distilled hooch from high pectin mash to cause organ damage and death. Yes, even in this day and age.

Sauce: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028366/


How about making it legal to import spores, just like most other states?

https://erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_law8.shtml


I would suggest contacting an involved legislator if you genuinely care about this, because the bill doesn't address it but it seems likely to be an oversight, as the general provisions against growing the things which produce the listed drugs is explicitly lifted in the bill, but the separate specific provision on spores is not.


FYI, non-urgent bills like this typically gets processed in one year. So if you are hopeful, the decriminalization can happen on Jan 1st 2022! https://indivisible.org/resource/indivisible-guide-californi...


> Peyote, an endangered plant, is excluded to protect traditional Native American spiritual practices.

Hm, this seems like a mistake. They should create a separate framework to deter the use of peyote. Like a killing endangered species framework.


There's already a killing endangered species framework and it's not stopping people from harvesting Colorado River toads to extract 5-MeO-DMT from them, even with the molecule being illegal. The exclusion is literally doing nothing except relieving the legal system of burden because no Native American is going to stop harvesting Peyote because it's illegal.


There are non-threatened species of cacti which also produce mescaline at slightly lower levels, but grow significantly more rapidly. Primarily the trichocereus genus.


Native Americans already have a legal way to use peyote in the context of spiritual practice.


I’m beyond offended that anyone thinks it’s okay to decide that some spiritual practices are okay for certain religious groups or ethnicities and not others. It’s racism.


Treaties exist outside of our cultural sensibilities.

Alongside religious exceptions.

Here it is possible to have both simultaneously.


it isn't that you aren't allowed to have the spiritual practice, you are welcome to use mescaline (the active ingredient in peyote, which can be synthesized) however you want. It is also available in some other cactuses that aren't near extinct.

The intent of the restriction is to keep the harvesting of the peyote plant at a level that hopefully prevents it from going extinct. If everyone was permitted to harvest peyote, it would be available to no one at all very quickly. Native Americans get the exception because the tribal groups that use the plant have a culture of respecting it and being caretakers of it.


In this age of communication, propaganda has become a beast indeed. And echochambers rise up and walk like godzilla. Which is dire.

Arguments and rationality won't save us. They are only as good as the authorities that we choose. And we rarely choose rationally or even consciously. And even if we do, for every clearheaded one there are 1000 sleepwalkers.

So insanity walks the land. What will save us?

I think that psychedelics might save us.


These Norwegian "anti-drug" posters provide food for thought:

https://i.imgur.com/tZ2eDOV.jpeg


These are awesome! Really helpful to shift conversations towards harm reduction.


Does anybody have any insight on what are the incentives for a politician to pursue something like this? (in general or even specific to Scott Wiener).

I haven't heard about him before, but looking as his wiki page [1], it look like he has a history of involvement in "cool"/progressive projects, so it could just be the fact that he truly thinks this is a good idea.

But, like any other politician, I assume there must be some other non obvious reasons why he's doing this other than "I think it should be done" or "if I do this, people will vote me".

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Wiener


This would be very exciting to see pass. Not that Psychedelics are a thing for me, but there is a lot of promising research with some of these substances. Many have been shown to have a lot of beneficial effects... if used correctly.

Right now they are illegal because they were misused. Many also sound scary. Are used in too high of dosage. And very frequently cut with extremely dangerous stuff.

It'd be like making ibuprofen and acetaminophen illegal with severe jail time.... Because someone took much while it was mixed (cut) with sodium hydroxide. Sure it sounds like scary stuff to the lay person until you remember that's Advil, Tylenol and drain cleaner respectively.


how do you cut a mushroom with dangerous stuff? dirty scissors?


Great points. Worth noting that Tylenol is extremely hepatotoxic in quite low doses (relative to the therapeutic dose). Several grams can kill you.


Ibuprofen is also extremely dangerous if you repeatedly take the recommended dose for too long. Although it's not as likely to kill you in a single overdose like Tylenol can easily do.


Anyone know how likely this is to pass?


More likely if we all call our congresspeople and let them know that we want it passed.


Since it's not a bill in Congress, calling Congresspeople is mostly a waste of time.

Call your CA State Legislators to get this bill passed (if you are in CA).

Call Congress if you'd like to see something similar at the federal level, I guess.


I was thinking of the state's congress. However you are right that's not what it is called. I'm so used to thinking of the federal system I misremembered the term. Thanks for clearing it up.


I would upvote this, but apparently mere bills are off-topic:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26185428


Mere bills are usually off-topic per dang in your link; upvoting is a very fine way to say that you think that is not the case in this specific circumstance.


That "guideline" is a just a convenient way for them to nuke a thread when they don't want to moderate it anymore. They let a lot of bill discussions continue on. You have 23K karma, you can spend a little.


I don't understand what are the benefits of it? Some of the psychedelics mess with your head way more than most people would want to, so what's the reason for it?


There's a lot of substances listed here. Ketamine through its interaction with glutamate is working as a depression treatment where other medicine is failing. Lsd mushrooms have a lot of therapeutics benefits, there was a lot of research done in the 50s that was shut down when it became illegal in thr 60s. Related to treating addiction. Mdma allows people to go through therapy and touch on topics that are causing ptsd that they normally don't talk about. That's just a gist, how to change your mind is a great book about it. Psychedelics can also be a tool to learn more about the brain and how it works.


Wow this would be great.


It's rather outrageous that a plant can be illegal in the first place.


I'm with you, but then so is "owning" land, etc.


“owning” land is illegal?


Some people reject ownership of land. Its good that this is getting more discussion because I think its generally nonsensical and this idea is rather old and doesn’t get debunked because up until recently it rarely made it out of socialist/communist dogma.


Why is it nonsensical? I've always interpreted this as being an attempt to call attention to things like the relative shortness of our lives in comparison to the earth and an argument that there's a certain amount of hubris involved in saying that you own components of ecosystems that you exist within and depend on to live.


> Why is it nonsensical?

Because territorialism is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom and aboriginal societies also had a concept of territory. They reject it because its a social convention and therefore its always possible to reject it. But they reject it because they don’t like being excluded from territories and they think rejecting the social convention of land ownership will result in a new arrangement where they are no longer excluded from territories. However this is like rejecting the social convention of English because you want to be able to make noises that English-speakers consider to be insulting. They haven’t addressed the fact that society relies on ownership notions in order to do things like produce food and housing; and they have no plan to allocate scarce resources in the absence of ownership norms.

> I've always interpreted this as being an attempt to call attention to things like the relative shortness of our lives in comparison to the earth and an argument that there's a certain amount of hubris involved in saying that you own components of ecosystems that you exist within and depend on to live.

Thats a valid response to a metaphysical concept of ownership as a thing-in-itself that has meaning outside of human relations. My response is to ground ownership in reciprocal norms that arise emergently from human interaction. And to justify them on the basis of egalitarian human rights.


To be pedantic, the plant isn't illegal - in some states it is illegal to grow and possess, and in most states it is illegal to sell.

And - although I agree this is ridiculous - there are plenty of prohibited plants [1], and some of that is for good reason.

[1] https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import...


To be even more pedantic, mushrooms are not plants. They are fungi.


It’s also illegal to make light at certain frequencies


Can you provide examples? I'm having trouble thinking of anything that is based on frequency alone. Laser light can be illegal if it is beamed towards aircraft. Radio waves can be illegal if they are transmitted with high enough energy to disrupt a licensed frequency, or if they carry information that is not compatible with the frequencies' license.. but otherwise they are still legal. I can have an FM transmitter in my car to play my phone legally because it is too low power to cause interference.

What frequency of light is illegal just in itself, regardless of power, information content, or target?


How is LSD or MDMA a plant?


I don't see GP suggesting that anywhere in their comment?


some numbers are ilegal


What if psychedelics makes people more susceptible to demon possession?


Then we should just make demon possession illegal and it would solve the problem.


I see no reason to worry about people possessing demons as long as the demons get their shots and are kept on a leash. legalizing demon possession would allow sensible regulations.


[flagged]


Strange comment. Psychedelics aren’t really life ruining drugs. You’re probably thinking of opioids.


Most homeless people doing drugs are doing drugs because they're homeless and need a break from life, not homeless because they did drugs.


I only do weed. It helps me slow down so others can keep up.


With all the tweaker camps under freeway overpasses and homeless junkies on heroin, now seems like a bad time to be legalizing even more drugs. The entire state already feels like Mad Max. Quality of life is in free fall and rule of law basically not followed in major cities, and this is what our legislators are concerned with. It's appalling.


Psychedelics are not comparable at all to the types of drugs you're thinking of. For one, they're generally not habit forming.


There are causes of poverty that are not drugs, I don't see how addiction treatment centers and other forms of decriminalization will make the problem worse.

The situation you're describing is already happening, under our existing drug laws. Is there any evidence to believe this would make that worse?

> The Netherlands reported just 235 fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, compared to 4,050 in Ohio, alone, for the same year.

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/opioids/netherlands-fr...


Serious question do you live in California or have you spent much time here? Do you think decriminalization via prop 47 has had a positive impact? I cannot comprehend you saying yes to both of these. The quality of life is in absolute free fall, even compared to only a few years ago. Comparing the Netherlands to California is laughable. There aren't junkies with needles in their arms passed out under freeways all over the Netherlands like there are in California. The slums of the Netherlands look clean compared to California living standards.

I understand psychedelics aren't habit forming, but it's not going to make the drug situation better or the quality of life better in California. It will simply be an abdication of responsibility. More kids will take them and drive and kill themselves doing something stupid. Same thing happened with prop 47, now you can get caught with meth or heroin and it's a ticket, as a result it's treated like weed was in the 90s. It's a race to the bottom for society.

Raise the minimum wage, pass universal healthcare, increase access to universities and job training. The rest of this is just bread and circuses to keep us distracted. "Sure, take your soma and leave me alone"- Newsom


Big difference in the type of drugs being used here... don't you erowid? You can't compare homeless people on crack living under a bridge to tech bros boofing ayahuasca with their personal shaman on a weekend getaway.


I really don’t understand how someone could walk around the streets of San Francisco and think that we need _more_ drugs in our society.

With a nearly 6 times as many people dying from overdoses versus COVID-19[0], it absolutely baffles me that drugs are continuously being decriminalized and legalized while pandemic restrictions are some of the strictest in the nation.

Do these politicians really have a lot of public support?

[0]: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-overdose-deaths-outpa...


1. This specific effort is for psychedelics like LSD and ketamine; the overdose problem is with opioids.

2. For opioid and cocaine decriminalization efforts, the mentality isn't that policymakers want more drugs in society; it's the experience of how criminal prohibition isn't helping deal with the problem. Specifically, it makes it harder to deliver social services (including both rehab and safety measures) when the targets for those social services are worried about getting arrested.


> I really don’t understand how someone could walk around the streets of San Francisco and think that we need _more_ drugs in our society.

People opposed to criminalization don't necessarily think we need more drugs, they often just think that the criminal justice system is not a good choice for controlling the adverse consequences of drugs.


Okay, so there are a few separate issues to tackle here.

First off, your numbers are misleading. Even if we took the literal numbers directly from your citation, it would suggest that less than 3.6x the number of deaths were attributable to overdoses versus COVID. This is not "nearly 6". These numbers also cover different periods, and a comparison between them offers very little information of use.

Second – this bill is specifically with regard to psychedelics. So far as I can see, there are no drug deaths attributable to psychedelic drugs in San Francisco this year. The majority of deaths involve fentanyl overdose, which is a much more specific and worrying problem.

Third – it's obvious that prohibition can't solve the problem of drug overdoses, simply because prohibition currently exists and yet overdose deaths continue to increase.

Solving a complex problem like widespread fentanyl overdoses requires effort and joined-up thinking. You will not solve it with shallow observations like "there are already too many drugs". You might have a chance of solving it through safe drug consumption facilities with support for users, systems for ensuring the safety of drugs, and efforts to keep them out of the criminal justice system.


I'll answer the part of your question nobody else has: Yes, this legislator (Scott Wiener) gets a lot of public support. He won a closely contested election by two percentage points in 2016 against another Democrat to enter the state senate, and last year was re-elected in a high-turnout election by 14 percentage points. I would characterize Scott as one of the few people in our state senate who is even trying to address the most major problems in California, like the housing crisis. He stands out as one of the best California politicians, which I grant may not be saying much.


You should probably read about the Prohibition[0] and the disadvantages of prohibiting addictive substances like alcohol.

[0]: https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/prohibition


I hear you. The down-votes are unfair since you just voiced your opinion.

At the same time...

ODs frequently happen because of lack quality control. You get this stuff from some shady folks, who got it from other shady folks, you have no idea whether you can trust the dosage, or whether you even get the drug you paid for.

The drugs themselves are often not the problem.

You can kill yourself with alcohol and nicotine is one of _the_ most additive substances we know. Should be prohibit these as well?

The key is regulation and quality control, and that you can only do within a legal framework.


> You can kill yourself with alcohol and nicotine is one of _the_ most additive substances we know. Should be prohibit these as well?

I understand this is a relatively extreme viewpoint, but yes. I believe nicotine should be prohibited. I think society would be better off if alcohol was prohibited too, but I understand the historical context behind that.

Nicotine, unlike psychedelics, does not “open one’s mind” or have any long term benefits to anyone’s life like MDMA supposedly does. In fact, it seems to be one of the only drugs I can think of where everyone is constantly trying to get off of it, and literally no one is promoting it’s usage.


The trouble with your reasoning here is the idea you can protect people from themselves. The second problem is that heart disease is the biggest killer, and there's no rational way to use the law to stop that.

Extreme sports, fast cars, alcohol, boxing, hell, even gymnastics, unprotected sex.. you see where I'm going with this.

What's moral is a separate question of, what's the best policy for society to keep people as safe as possible. Bootleg cigarettes and fines (prison?) are probably not those things.

Besides, some people can smoke moderately or rarely and not get addicted or die.

Finally, you're too soft on your alcohol prohibition stance, where you're saying you can see the benefits. Empirically, do you see the benefits in the creation of a criminal syndicate that still exists, a century later? History has spoken, prohibition causes harm.


I really don’t understand how someone could look at our criminal justice system and think we need more innocent people in jail


It is important not to lump all drugs together. Personally, I think heroin and amphetamines are extremely dangerous and would hope people stop taking them. Addicting children to amphetamines as part of treating ADHD is very worrying to me.

Drugs like ibogaine in particular, and LSD and psilocybin to a lesser degree, on the other hand, have shown great efficacy in helping people overcome addictions. So by greater access to psychedelic therapy we could massively reduce the impact of the drugs that are causing harm.

Furthermore, it is very difficult to overdose on most psyechedelics as most people don't want to trip again right away after an experience, and also that the amount you need for an experience is often orders of magnitude lower than the dangerous amount (for instance you can have a significant trip on 100 micrograms of LSD, an overwhelming experience on 300 micrograms, but it would take many grams to be fatal).


Amphetamine is not addictive at therapeutic doses. The effects are much smaller than caffeine.

Actually, non-stimulant ADHD drugs like guanfacine really are physically addictive and it's unpleasant if you run out of them, which is easy to do if you have ADHD and forget to pick up your refill.




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