Cox won’t support bill legalizing ‘magic mushrooms’

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox said he would not support a bill that seeks to legalize psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” in Utah, putting it under a tightly controlled medical program.

At his monthly news conference on PBS, the governor said he would prefer to wait for the federal government to move forward on psychedelics first.

“It’s just not there yet. We got there with medical marijuana. I just don’t believe the science is there. I don’t believe we should be experimenting on 5,000 people in our state. There are serious consequences I’m not comfortable with,” he told reporters.

The governor’s comments let the wind out of a bill that was gaining support. Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, was pushing for a tightly-controlled pilot program limited to 5,000 patients to use psilocybin to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD. The bill had the support of the Utah Patients Coalition and the Libertas Institute, which supported the medical cannabis ballot initiative.

But another group that supported medical cannabis told FOX 13 News it would not support Senate Bill 200. Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education founder Christine Stenquist said she didn’t believe it was good for patients.

“It seems like we didn’t learn anything from the medical cannabis program. The implementation of language targeting patient overregulation and promoting the use of lab-made products will shift Utah towards a capitalistic model, where expensive medication options are prioritized over safer, more cost-effective patient-grown medicine,” Stenquist said in an email. “This trend undermines patients’ autonomy and makes it more difficult for them to access the treatments they need. The proposed psilocybin bill could exacerbate this problem by limiting access to potentially life-changing treatment options. Decriminalization is the most compassionate and patient-focused approach.”

On Thursday, Sen. Escamilla said she was still pushing forward and speaking with the governor. The bill was slated to be heard in a Senate committee next week.

“It’s happening, guys. I mean, the bottom line is people are using them. We’ve seen places where they’re selling them. My idea was bringing a medical piece in a restraining way and actually regulating them better. It was a better approach than what we currently have in place,” she told reporters.

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