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California Drops Psychedelic Therapy Legalization Bill, Again

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Psilocybin 'Golden Teacher' mushrooms grow in a humidified monotub. (John Moore/Getty Images)

California’s latest effort to legalize psychedelic substances for therapeutic purposes has tripped up.

A bipartisan bill that would have allowed three counties — San Francisco, San Diego and Santa Cruz — to operate facilities for three years where veterans and former first responders could use psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms, under the supervision of a licensed physician died in committee on Tuesday.

Sen. John Becker (D-Menlo Park) and Sen. Brian Jones (R-San Diego) recently put Senate Bill 803 forward after a broader bill aiming to legalize psychedelic substances also died in committee last month. The authors pulled SB 803, titled the Heal Our Heroes Act, after it appeared headed for a ‘no’ vote.

“While the Heal Our Heroes Act will not advance in the Assembly Health Committee, it has raised awareness of the work-related trauma and troubling mental health issues our veterans and first responders face after honorably serving our state and country,” Becker said in a statement to KQED. “More than 17 veterans die by suicide each week. This is unacceptable. Our heroes deserve the best care possible.”

SB 803 was the fourth major effort by state lawmakers in recent years to create legal access to psychedelics for therapeutic use.


“The Legislature has again failed veterans, first responders and the 130,000 veteran families that have lost a loved one to suicide,” said Jesse Gould, founder of Heroic Hearts Project, a nonprofit which works to further the acceptance of psychedelic therapies for veterans. “We applaud the legislators that supported SB 803 and its previous iterations, and are undeterred in our fight to find effective solutions to reduce veteran suicide and the veteran mental health crisis.”

Assembly Health Committee Chair Mia Bonta vowed to keep the issue top-of-mind.

“It may well be that psychedelics have the potential to provide significant mental health benefits for those experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, it is also crucial to provide a medical and therapeutic pathway with robust and meaningful regulation so California can be a beacon of leadership on this form of care,” Bonta said in a prepared statement. “This issue will undoubtedly remain top of mind for me as I seek to ensure all Californians can access the safest and most effective care possible.”

At the local level, cities including Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz have voted to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms by de-prioritizing law enforcement and penalties for possession and use of the substances.

But the push to regulate psychedelics has been an uphill battle in the Golden State, where it is illegal to possess, cultivate and sell psilocybin and psilocin.

In 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a broad bill aiming to decriminalize psychedelic substances. In his veto, the governor asked lawmakers to come back with a bill similar to a model already used in Oregon, the first state in the U.S. to pass a regulatory framework for the use of psychedelic mushrooms.

The bill lawmakers came back with, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would have approved service centers where people could use magic mushrooms, MDMA and mescaline for therapeutic purposes. That bill died in committee in May.

Advocates for therapeutic uses of psychedelics said they are seeking to put the issue in voters’ hands in 2026.

A small but growing body of research shows that using magic mushrooms can help with certain mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. However, studies have also shown a small portion of people have negative experiences using psychedelics, including anxiety and suicidal thoughts, particularly with recreational use outside of a controlled setting.

This story has been updated.

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