Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law which would allow California doctors to immediately begin writing prescriptions for MDMA and psilocybin medications should the federal government choose to reschedule them.

Gov. Newsom signed AB 1021 on Saturday in an effort to prepare California doctors ahead of expected federal movement regarding psychedelics like MDMA and psilocybin, which have increasingly shown effectiveness against several different mental health related issues. MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms are currently considered Schedule 1 narcotics under the Controlled Substances Act.

“Notwithstanding any other law, if a substance listed in Schedule I of Section 11054 is excluded from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act and placed on a schedule of the act other than Schedule I, or if a product composed of one of these substances is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and either placed on a schedule of the act other than Schedule I, or exempted from one or more provisions of the act, so as to permit a physician, pharmacist, or other authorized healing arts licensee acting within their scope of practice, to prescribe, furnish, or dispense that product, the physician, pharmacist, or other authorized healing arts licensee who prescribes, furnishes, or dispenses that product in accordance with federal law shall be deemed to be in compliance with state law governing those acts,” the bill said.

In layman’s terms, all that legal language means that AB 1021 actually allows for any substance currently listed under Schedule 1 (heroin, LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, cannabis and peyote to name a few) to be prescribed by California doctors if rescheduled, not just limited to MDMA and psilocybin though they are the current most likely candidates for rescheduling other than cannabis. The bill actually specified that none of these changes apply to cannabis because they have already been addressed in other legislation.

“This section does not apply to cannabis or a cannabis product, as defined in Section 26001 of the Business and Professions Code. However, cannabis or cannabis products may be authorized pursuant to Section 11150.2,” the bill said.

AB 1021 does not allow for doctors to start writing prescriptions just yet but after years of research and studies the FDA could be prepared to reschedule these medications as early as next year, further confirmed by recent results of a phase 3 clinical trial which concluded that MDMA effectively reduced symptoms for treatment-resistant patients with moderate to severe PTSD. 

“Thanks to the combined efforts of dozens of therapists, hundreds of participants who volunteered in MAPS-sponsored trials, and many thousands of generous donors, MDMA-assisted therapy is on track to be considered for approval by the FDA in 2024,” said Rick Doblin, founder and president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) which sponsored the study. 

Gov. Newsom also signed a bill into law on Saturday concerning cannabis edible testing. AB 623 essentially established what’s called a testing variance for edible cannabis products that are considered lower-dose than the current standard dose of 10 milligrams. 

A testing variance means that it’s hard to make cannabis edibles all exactly one very specific dose so the law currently allows for the dose to be off plus or minus 10 percent of the 10 milligram dose, loosely meaning if it falls within 9-11 milligrams it will pass. What AB 623 did was require the California Department of Cannabis Control to establish what the variance should be for products that have less than five milligrams of THC in total to provide more consistency (less variance) for people who use lower-dose products.

“Ultimately, this bill tasks the [the Department of Cannabis Control] with the responsibility to determine what the appropriate testing variances should be for those products with a lower level of THC than what is currently specified in statute as 10 milligrams to ensure that testing standards are consistent, accurate and appropriate for smaller dosing sizes,” said state analysis of the bill.

Still sitting on the governor’s desk is a bill that would decriminalize psychedelics in California, a bill that would severely restrict packaging options for California cannabis companies, a bill to legalize cannabis cafes, some proposed changes to the track and trace system, a bill that would let certain elderly people with chronic diseases consume cannabis at the hospital, and a bill that would prevent employers from asking about past cannabis use on job applications. 

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