Gov. Cox says he opposes bill to legalize ‘magic mushrooms’ in Utah

Despite efforts from a state senator to pare down a plan to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in Utah for patients suffering from certain conditions, Gov. Spencer Cox said he does not support it.

“It’s just not there yet,” said Cox during his monthly news conference Thursday morning about Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Sen. Luz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City), which aims to create a pilot program for up to 5,000 patients to use psilocybin, often referred to as “magic mushrooms.”

Cox said he would rather wait for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s process to proceed, which mirrors concerns previously expressed by the Utah Medical Association.

“I just don’t believe the science is there,” Cox said. “I don’t believe we should be experimenting on 5,000 people here in our state, and I think there are some serious consequences and side effects societally as well as medically that I’m just not comfortable with.”

Escamilla has wanted to allow patients suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or those on hospice care to use psilocybin. She said Utah already has experience with medical cannabis and can do the same with psychedelic mushrooms.

“This is not for everyone, and we’re not claiming this is going to solve all of our mental health problems,” Escamilla said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at the Utah State Capitol. “But it will solve the problem of more than one person, and that’s enough for me to save their lives.”

Escamilla’s bill does not yet have a Senate committee hearing scheduled. There are just over two weeks left in the legislative session.

During a media availability Wednesday afternoon, Escamilla told reporters she had spoken to the governor and was not surprised by his opposition to her bill, which she called a “big ask.”

Still, Escamilla said she expected her bill would be heard in a committee this session and that she said she would continue to work on the issue of psychedelic mushrooms to treat patients.

“It’s happening, guys,” Escamilla said. “The bottom line is people are using them. We’ve seen places where they’re selling them, and I think my idea was just kind of bringing more a medical piece to it in a more restraining way and actually regulating them better, so I thought it was a better approach than what we currently have in place.”


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