California Bill Pushing To Legalize Psychedelics Statewide Is Being Supported By PTSD War Veterans

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According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there is quite a high percentage of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This is why so many PTSD war veterans groups are backing a California bill that is hoping to decriminalize psychedelics in order to use them as treatment.

If this newly proposed bill gets passed, it will be yet another step for the state to end laws otherwise thought to be incredibly archaic. Laws they believe came about because of the country’s failure to end the seemingly endless war on drugs.

In February 2021, San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener introduced the Bill 519. The bill proposes to ‘comprehensively decriminalize the use of and possession of psychedelics,’ which other areas like Santa Cruz, Oakland, Oregon and the District of Columbia have already done before them, decriminalizing certain drugs in a variety of degrees.

The proposed law includes a range of psychedelic drugs such as the well-known hallucinogen psilocybin otherwise called “magic” mushrooms, 3,4-MMDA, whose street name is molly or ecstasy, psilocyn, ketamine, DMT, LSD, ibogaine, and mescaline, all of which would be decriminalized should the bill get passed.

Just like another bill that had been passed back in 2018, which erased convictions from records of California residents that were cannabis-related, Bill 519 also proposes to expunge any former convictions for both the possession or use of the drugs included in the bill.

One issue with the all-inclusive decriminalization measure proposed in this bill is that it would not limit the use of these drugs to only medical. But again, it would open up the avenues working to endorse the medicinal and therapeutic beneficial uses of psychedelics which have gained continuous recognition from both researchers and health experts over the past few years.

Senator Weiner explained in a statement, “Given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for use drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions. People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTDS, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need.”

Aside from Mr. Weiner, there are two groups that highly support the bill as well. The Heroic Heart Project and VETS(Vets Exploring Treatment Solutions), both of which are nonprofit organizations that work to help veterans handle their mental health problems that come from trauma mostly stemming from PTSD.

They also insist that the medical benefits that come from the use of such drugs have shown great success, as proven by drug policy reform advocates throughout their former efforts.

According to Anthony Johnson, an Oregon-based drug policy reform advocate, told the Guardian, “That’s how it worked with cannabis.” In fact, Johnson was one of the leaders when it came to getting his state to ‘decriminalize the possession of small amounts of basically all illicit drugs through Measure 110,’ which surprisingly gained tons of voters’ approval last November.

Johnson added, “It’s definitely a way to help people that need it first and foremost, but also then to educate the public about these substances of how they drug war has been a failed policy and how there is a better approach.”

When Oregon’s Measure 109 managed to pave the way for the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, it was petitioners that stressed the need to stop the prohibition of the hallucinogenic and use it to treat mental health challenges through such alternative methods as using these prohibited drugs.

A group of Oregon advocates released a statement back in November after the astonishing approval of the legal psilocybin therapy bill by voters. They said, “Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered the call for a new option to help so many who are suffering.”

Law enforcement has been the hardest issue when it comes to decriminalization, just how it’s been with other states. They explain that they are mostly concerned about public safety and the use of prohibited drugs, as well as the fact that the private prison industry will lose humongous profits from their state contracts from all the incarcerated drug users.

Yet California Senator Wiener shares that it’s his hope that when veterans share their stories, it will help convince those that oppose the law to change their minds about their biases and preconceptions when it comes to the uses and users of these types of psychedelic drugs.

Senator Wiener went on to say, “There’s a stereotype of who’s using psychedelics, but it’s much broader than that and when you have veterans coming into the Capitol talking about how psychedelics help them with PTSD and help them get their lives back, that’s incredibly powerful for legislators.”

One such veteran is 38- year old Juliana Mercer who was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 16 years. This included 10 years of active duty service with one tour in Iraq and another in Afghanistan.

For four years, she has been a member of the wounded warriors unit, having seen unfathomable horrors from her time in the military which has sadly left her with unforgettably horrible memories. Because of this, she suffers from long-term trauma which she’s found almost impossible to deal with.

Mercer explains, “I lost quite a few friends and just saw a lot of a lot of damage and destruction along the way. I put all of that stuff away and kind of forgot about it for a while, and once I slowed down it was all just sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it.”

Although she shares that the first time she used psychedelics was recreational, she also says that it created a ‘sense of connectedness’ that she hadn’t felt for years. This is when she decided to get in touch with the Heroic Hearts Project around a year and a half ago so that she could use ayahuasca therapy. After which, she also explained was something that had ‘exceeded expectations’ which opted her to release what she called “years of grief.”

According to Mercer, “I kept hearing that when you do some of these plant medicines, you’ll be able to do 10 years’ worth of work in one session. Just one of my sessions really brought out all of that pain and the grief that I didn’t even know was in there and allowed me to just completely release it and expel it, things that I had no idea were there.”

Meanwhile for Lauren Taus, who happens to be a licensed clinical social worker, the therapies that involved plants like psilocybin and ayahuasca are just ‘strong tools rather than cure-alls’ when it comes to the challenges of people’s mental health and the issues they create. But, with the pandemic going on with almost no end in sight, it has further compounded the mental health crisis that has managed to blanket the entire country, which is why Taus believes that the psychedelics should be decriminalized.

Taus said, “The causes of trauma are multiplying way faster than the solutions. Current treatment is generally not very effective.”

She adds, “Psychedelic medicine has been engaged with globally for eons. This stuff works and we deserve to have access to solutions that will be sustainable.”


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