Despite the overwhelming evidence showing that kidnapping and caging people for possessing illegal substances does nothing to prevent use and only leads to more crime and suffering, government is still hell bent on enforcing the war on drugs. Like a crack addict who needs to find his next fix, the state is unable to resist the temptation to kick in doors, shake down brown people, and ruin lives to enforce the drug war.
Instead of realizing the horrific nature of the enforcement of prohibition, many cities across the country double down on the drug war instead of admitting failure. As we can see from watching it unfold, this only leads to more suffering and more crime. Luckily, there are cities, and now entire states in other parts of the country that are taking steps to stop this violent war and the implications for such measures are only beneficial to all human kind.
Eight years ago, Colorado citizens—tired of the war on drugs and wise to the near-limitless benefits of cannabis—made US history by voting to legalize recreational marijuana. Then, in 2019, this state once again placed themselves on the right side of history as they voted to decriminalize magic mushrooms. But this was just the beginning and their momentum is spreading—faster and stronger, toward decriminalizing all plant-based psychedelics. Then, this year, the state of Oregon decriminalized all drugs.
Now, another state is following suit, but not just with psilocybin— a bill in California is moving forward with a legalization measure for other psychedelics like mescaline cacti, ayahuasca and ibogaine.
The California Assembly committee is holding a hearing next month on the bill to legalize the possession, personal use, and facilitated and supported use of the following substances by adults 21 and over.
- mescaline (excluding peyote)
Senate Bill 519 was proposed last year but was put on hold in August to adjust the wording in order to ensure its passage. As the Tenth Amendment Center points out:
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Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of many of the drugs on SB519’s decriminalization list and heavily regulates others. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
In effect, the passage of SB519 would end criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of these drugs in California. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with other drugs.
“With mental health issues on the rise, it is time that California take an incremental and measured step to dismantle failed war on drugs policies by ending the criminalization of people that possess and use substances with immense healing potential,” the bill's sponsor Sen. Scott Wiener said in a statement of the bill's purpose.
“It’s the plants that are going to bring us back to sanity. We've got to listen to their message and we’ve got to live reciprocally with nature and restore the natural order,” Susana Eager Valadez, director of the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts said after Oakland passed a similar decriminalization bill in 2019.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear the case for SB519 on Aug. 3. It must pass the committee by a majority vote before moving to the full Assembly for further consideration. Hopefully it does and California shifts from kidnapping and caging people for these substances, to focusing on using them for therapy.
While California is certainly no bastion for freedom — especially with their draconian COVID-19 response — bills like this are a win for everyone as it requires far less money to help people than it does to incarcerate them.
Now, cops can try to focus on real crimes instead of kidnapping and caging people who are trying to heal themselves with a plant.
Supporters hope the decision will begin a nationwide discussion about decriminalizing plant-based drugs.