California’s governor says that while he understands the “profound” potential of psychedelics to treat certain mental health conditions, he’s still undecided on how he will approach a bill to legalize small amounts of certain entheogenic substances that’s on his desk—even as new polling shows a majority of likely voters in the state back the reform.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) position on psychedelics has been murky, with no clear indication of whether he’d sign the legislation from Sen. Scott Wiener (D). But in a recent interview with Politico, he shared mixed feelings about the proposal.
On the one hand, he said as the father of four young children, he views issues through a different “prism” than he did when he led the charge on legalizing marijuana and pushed for other drug policy reforms, including supporting certain harm reduction services like syringe exchange programs.
“I’m also mindful of the anxiety and stress that’s out there as well,” he said. “And that’s a new spectrum of some respects.”
On the other hand, the governor said he’s also “deeply mindful” of the potential benefits of psychedelics.
“I have a lot of friends that are vets,” so he understands “the profound and consequential nature of how these drugs have been used to address PTSD.”
“That is what I will bring in to a review of this bill,” he said.
Watch Newsom discuss the psychedelics reform legislation, starting at 21:00 into the video below:
Likely voters in California are more decided on the issue of psychedelics, according to an FM3 poll that was conducted last month. The survey, first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, found that 60 percent of California likely voters support the psychedelics bill that the legislature approved, including 30 percent who “strongly” support it.
Another 44 percent of respondents said they’d view their state lawmakers more favorably if they supported psychedelics reform legislation, while 19 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference and 38 percent said they’d view them less favorably.
“In conclusion, California voters broadly support reforming laws around personal possession of plant-based psychedelics which can be effective in treating PTSD, anxiety and depression,” the firm wrote. “Support for such a bill is a net- positive for a state legislator as well.”
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But for Newsom, it may not just be Californians he’s thinking about as he weighs what to do with the psychedelics bill. It’s widely speculated that the governor, who is termed out in 2026, is considering a future run for president, and he may worry about possible fallout in other battleground states if he’s linked to legalizing other drugs.
Newsom has already shown a willingness to flout drug policy reform advocates. Last session, for example, he vetoed a bill to establish a safe drug consumption site pilot program in the state that was also sponsored by Wiener.
This session, meanwhile, the governor won’t just be deciding on the psychedelics legislation. He has until October 14 to act on more than a dozen marijuana and other drug policy-related bills. That includes measures to prevent employers from asking job applicants about marijuana use, legalize cannabis “cafes” and promote environmentally sustainable track-and-trace plant tagging.
Read the California poll on psychedelics reform below:
Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.