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Mixed reaction from local officials, residents as psychedelics legalization bill progresses

Update 4:45 p.m.

The bill passed in the State Senate on Thursday, just edging out the necessary votes. The bill heads to Governor Newsom's desk for final passage.

The Riverside County Sheriff is speaking out against proposed legislation that could decriminalize psychedelics like "magic mushrooms" in the state.

Sheriff Chad Bianco posted on social media, "Your legislators are purposely destroying California. They just passed a bill to legalize date rape drugs and hallucinogens. (SB-58) All while we are in a crisis of addiction, homelessness, mental health, and overdose deaths. We are blindly sinking this ship based on a failed social experiment. We are in desperate need of a direction change before it is too late."

Bianco's objections came hours after a proposed change took another major step toward becoming law.

The bill to decriminalize psychedelics in California moved one step closer to the governor's desk after the State Assembly passed it late Wednesday.

SB 58 passed with a 41 to 11 vote on the assembly floor on Wednesday.

According to the bill's text:

This bill would, on and after January 1, 2025, make lawful the cultivation or transportation of specified quantities of spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other materials that contain psilocybin or psilocyn for personal use, as defined, by and with persons 21 years of age or older.

SB 58

Local Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia was among those who passed the bill.

Local Assemblymember Greg Wallis did not vote on the bill.

News Channel 3 asked Assemblymember Wallis why he chose to not vote at all on the proposed legislation.

"While I support the goal of helping veterans and others in need, I could not vote for SB 58 in its current form. The bill's broad scope raises concerns about potential unintended consequences outweighing the benefits. If this bill ultimately passes, my main concern would be to monitor for any increase in associated rise in crime or drug dependency. My hope is that the bill accomplishes what it sets out to do-- to aid in the recovery from traumatic injuries or experiences."

Assemblymember Greg Wallis

We are awaiting a statement from Assemblymember Garcia's office.

The bill would also require the state's Health and Human Services Agency to create "a workgroup to study and make recommendations on the establishment of a framework governing the therapeutic use, including facilitated or supported use, of those substances." That workgroup would be required to send a report to the Legislature with their findings by January 1, 2025.

The bill previously passed the State Senate in May. In May, Senator Alex Padilla (D, CA-18) voted in favor of the legislation. Senator Kelly Seyarto (R, CA-32) voted against it.

It returned to the assembly floor for a final sign-off. It'll return to the Senate floor again, and if it passes, it will head to Governor Gavin Newsom's desk for final approval.

A June 2023 study from the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, "more than six in ten (61%) American registered voters support legalizing regulated therapeutic access to psychedelics, including 35% who report “strong” support." However, the same study found that only 20% of respondents felt that psychedelics are "good for society."

UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics

The study also asked people if they support "removing criminal penalties for personal use and possession of psychedelics." 29% of respondents strongly supported it; 31% strongly opposed it.

UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics

Tonight at 5 p.m. on News Channel 3, hear from a local man suffering from PTSD after serving in the United States military. He will share his story of micro-dosing with psychedelics.

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Miyoshi Price

Miyoshi joined KESQ News Channel 3 in April 2022. Learn more about Miyoshi here.

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