Southern California drug warriors oppose sensible psychedelic decriminalization
On Wednesday, the California Senate approved Senate Bill 58, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to remove criminal penalties for possession of certain plant-based psychedelic drugs.
Unlike with medical marijuana back in the 1990s, this is not a case of California being on the cutting edge. In 2020, Oregon voters decriminalized personal drug possession and approved the Psilocybin Services Act to direct the state to create a state-licensed psilocybin mushroom-therapy system. Voters in Colorado have also voted to decriminalize psychedelic drugs.
The decriminalization of personal possession of these drugs does not equate to condoning their use. But rather, it recognizes that there are decisions which can and should be left for individuals to sort out for themselves. It also draws a line between victimless activities, even vices, and conduct which actually merits policing and the involvement of the criminal justice system.
“Decriminalizing the possession and personal use of certain psychedelics will allow law enforcement officials to prioritize serious threats to public safety and redirect resources to strategies that work, rather than requiring a disproportionate criminal response,” argued the Law Enforcement Action Partnership in support of the bill.
While 21 state senators voted to approve SB 58, 16 did not and three “moderates” chose to avoid making a decision and didn’t vote. One of the abstainers is noted drunk driver and congressional candidate Dave Min from Orange County, who voted against a previous version of the bill last year.Worse than that, though, are drug warrior Democrats like Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, who is also running for Congress (to succeed Rep. Adam Schiff), Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, and Tom Umberg, D-Anaheim, who all opposed decriminalization last time, too.
There were other Democrats who stood up for prohibition, too, including new state senators Aisha Wahab, Angelique Ashby and Marie Alvarado-Gil.
I’m not mentioning the Republicans, because of course they’re awful on this. No one expects Republicans to care about personal freedom.
Progressives should certainly hold these votes against the offending prohibitionists, especially Portantino, who wrongly believe that possessing psychedelics should risk a police response. If you’re not perceptive enough to understand that’s ridiculous, you don’t belong in Congress.
Sal Rodriguez can be reached at [email protected]