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Should California decriminalize psychedelic drugs? Army veteran makes his case to lawmakers

Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

The bill is supported by a variety of groups, including veterans groups Heroic Hearts Project and Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions, which are both so-sponsors of the legislation, as well as groups such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, also known as MAPS.

Ismail Ali, policy and advocacy counsel for MAPS, told The Bee that decriminalizing psychedelics “is a step toward ending the failed war on drugs and beginning the process of what a post-prohibition world looks like.”

He said that decriminalizing social sharing is critical because the safest way to use psychedelics is in groups with a trained facilitator.

“Social sharing is really a way to acknowledge for some of these substances the use rarely occurs in personal context,” he said.

Ali disputed the statement that decriminalizing ketamine would lead to a spike in drug-assisted sexual assaults.


“Alcohol is the most commonly used date rape drug and it’s perfectly legal,” he said.

Ali said that he would like to see more honest education about what psychedelic drugs actually do, but that this legislation would be a good first step.

“It’s not the whole picture. It’s not the silver bullet that’s going to fix all our mental health problems. But it’s a significant step.”


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