On August 25, 2021, California Senate Bill 519 (SB519) was paused in the CA State Assembly Appropriations Committee. Being the first and most expansive psychedelic decriminalization bill to go through a state legislature, SB519 was a controversial bill. At 12pm Pacific on Wednesday, September 8, Chacruna Institute is hosting What’s Happening with the CA Decriminalization Bill? Community Learning from the Advocacy Front Lines, a moderated community forum about the ins and outs of the bill, from its origin, to the negotiations and compromises, to its current status and next steps. This forum is supported by over 25 advocacy and educational organizations in the psychedelic space. 

“A group of 25 of the main grassroots, advocacy and non-profit organizations in the psychedelic space got together in this community forum to understand where we are at with SB519… to dream together, and co-create a better future for our beloved sacred plants,” says Bia Labate, Executive Director, Chacruna Institute.

The legislative process is notoriously archaic and complex, yet understanding it is crucial to support and advocate for effective drug policy reform. Join community advocates and allies in a dynamic discussion to demystify SB519, a bill to decriminalize the personal use of some psychedelics that is going through the California state legislature. Chacruna has previously published an article by Sean McAllister, one of nation’s leading drug policy reform lawyers, but more open conversation is warranted.

“Having conversations around policy and reform that is accessible to the greater community is imperative to the policy process—they should be as transparent and accessible to the community as possible so we may collectively come together for true policy change.” –Monica Cadena, Co-Executive Director of the Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education (SPORE)

This panel will cover:

  • The origins of the bill – what inspired Senator Wiener to bring this issue forward in the CA legislature?
  • The negotiations and compromises – what were the boundaries and parameters that advocates were working within, and how were they navigated by the advocates and coalitions supporting its passage? For example, why was ketamine excluded, and how did the discussion evolve around personal threshold limits, and provisions for group support? 
  • Future prospects – what happens next, whether or not it is passed into law?
  • Why are legislative changes in California so important, and how this might affect the rest of the country and world?
Illustration by Fernanda Cervantes.

We are grateful that CA Senator Scott Wiener, sponsor and original drafter of SB519, will send a pre-recorded video which will be broadcasted at the beginning of the event. 

“As a community organizer I believe in people power. I also believe that the best way to harness people power is through us being well and accurately informed. Oakland Hyphae believes that it is critical that the public have the ability to ask questions and give input to those shaping the future of plant medicine. This forum and forums is meant  to elevate the voice of the people as well as connect them to the process.” –Reggie Harris, HNIC at Oakland Hyphae

Because the bill was recently paused until next year, panelists will discuss lessons learned and what to prepare for when the session continues in 2022. Particular attention will be paid to providing clarity around community concerns in a moderated Q&A.

“I’m hopeful to see such dedicated advocates in conversation with communities in this forum. My hope is that together we are growing an accurately informed and caring community aligned towards effective and equitable decriminalization.” –Bob Otis, Garden Steward for Sacred Garden Community 

What’s Happening with the CA Decriminalization Bill? Community Learning from the Advocacy Front Lines: A Conversation with Ismail Ali, David Bronner, Reggie Harris and Monica Cadena will take place on Wednesday, September 8th from 12-2pm PST. To join, register here.

This event is proudly co-produced by ChacrunaSan Francisco Psychedelic SocietySPORE and Oakland Hyphae with the support of the following Community Sponsors:

Community Partners

Beckley Foundation, Decrim Nature Seattle, Fireside, Fruiting Bodies Collective, Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, Heroic Hearts Project, Los Angeles Medicinal Psychedelic Society, Lucid News, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS Canada), PEAC, Plant Medicine Coalition, Plant Medicine Healing Alliance, Psychedelic Seminars, Psychedelic Support, Psychedelic Times, Psychedelics Today, Sacred Community Garden, Sage Institute, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Tam Integration, Unlimited Sciences and Vote Nature.

About Chacruna Institute                                

The Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, an organization co-founded by Brazilian anthropologist Dr. Bia Labate and American psychologist Dr. Clancy Cavnar, produces high-quality research on plant medicines and psychedelics and helps propagate academic knowledge in more accessible formats. We educate the public and create cultural understanding and legitimacy regarding these substances so that they may cease to be stigmatized and outlawed. Chacruna also promotes a bridge between the world of plant medicines and the emergent field of psychedelic science, between “traditional ceremonial use” and clinical and therapeutic settings, bringing the knowledge and perspectives of the social sciences to health care professionals and practitioners of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Finally, we foster cultural and political reflections on the field of psychedelic science and facilitate conversations about controversial topics that have been simmering on the sidelines as psychedelics go mainstream

Art by Trey Brasher.


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