Could legalizing psychoactive mushrooms cut down on opioid epidemic?

Feb 14, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:05 pm

Utah 2022 legislative session...

Aerial view of the Utah State Capitol.(Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5)

(Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new bill in the Utah legislature would legalize psychoactive mushrooms in a way that is similar to the state’s marijuana laws.

Proponents of the bill say it could aid in the fight against the opioid epidemic. 

Sen. Liz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City), the sponsor of the bill, joined KSL at Night on Monday with hosts Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to discuss why S.B. 200 is so important.

Carabello asked, “What are the basic things you’re trying to achieve with this bill?”

“So more than anything is just an extra tool in the toolbox as we continue to explore solutions on our mental health crisis that we’re facing, not only as a state but as a nation,” Escamilla said. 

She explains that a lot of individuals suffering from depression and PTSD along with veterans are running out of options for help.

Psychoactive mushrooms will be handled by those trained 

Escamilla acknowledges that psychoactive mushrooms are a federally illegal substance.

“And the way we’re going to do it is by treating it inside a facility,” she said. “So, you will be in a medical setting, recommended by a physician.”

She said the only person who will handle the substance is a qualified mental health provider. Additionally, trained personnel will have at least 80 hours of training on the treatment. The mental health provider will be with the individual as the substance is being administered, Escamilla said.

Morgan asked, “But at what point is this a treatment for symptoms versus a prescribed escape from symptoms?”

“It is about your activity and your, you know, the brain activity,” Escamilla said. “So yeah, you’re enhancing this through this process.”

Studies say the treatment is safe, according to lawmaker

Escamilla goes on to say that the University of Utah and Johns Hopkins University have conducted lengthy studies on the use of psychoactive mushrooms.

“This is a very, very safe encounter,” she said. 

Escamilla said it’s important to allow individuals to have more options.

“Just the idea that you will allow people to have option versus opioids,” she said. “We are addictive and have killed millions of Americans, and this opportunity to treat your inside, your depression [and] your PTSD in a different way.”

Escamilla admits this treatment will be costly, but also acknowledges that it will not be covered by the state.

“But we know there’s multiple nonprofit organizations, especially supporting veterans that will pay for the veterans to get access to some of the care,” she said.

Carabello asked, “Are there concerns about a caregiver there?”

Escamilla stresses that individuals will never have access to the substance. Furthermore, those individuals will never be allowed to take the medication home. 

“Those providers will have to work together to make sure that licensed medical doctor is working in collaboration with a mental health specialist, qualified mental specialist as this is being administered,” she said. 

Escamilla said the state is running low on licensed mental health providers, who could help those in need. As a result, she said the suicide rate is too high.

“I just want to make sure we have an extra tool in that toolbox,” she said. 


KSL at Night can be heard most weeknights from 7 to 9 p.m.

Read more

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

someone taps on facebook icon, utah lawmakers working to protect kids from social media...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker talks about his work to shield kids from social media

State Sen. Mike McKell discusses the legislation he has sponsored to undo the harm to Utah children from social media.

1 day ago

governor spencer and rep phil lyman shown, lyman is calling the signatures from cox's campaign into...

Peter Johnston

Governor candidate Phil Lyman calls for audit into Gov. Spencer Cox’s signatures

Rep. Phil Lyman is calling for an audit to look into whether the signatures Gov. Spencer Cox gathered should count.

1 day ago

Wyoming has an artificial intelligence running for mayor....

Michael Camit

An artificial intelligence is running for mayor in Wyoming

An artificial intelligence running for mayor? Sounds like science fiction but it's happening in Wyoming in 2024.

1 day ago

Supreme Court Police officers stand on duty outside of the Supreme Court building on Thursday, June...

MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

The Supreme Court upholds a gun control law intended to protect domestic violence victims

The Supreme Court has upheld a federal gun control law on Friday with intentions to protect domestic violence victims.

2 days ago

Image of Temple Mountain found on BLM land within Emery County, Utah. (Mike Coronella)...

Aimee Cobabe

Utah files lawsuit over BLM Public Lands Rule

In the lawsuit, Utah accuses the BLM of taking a "museum-like" approach to the state's public lands.

2 days ago

coal power plant in Delta, utah...

Alexandrea Bonilla and Kennedy Camerana

Special session addresses future coal needs in Utah

Lawmakers approved a bill that changes the ownership of a coal plant in Delta, Utah, thereby giving the state more control.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Could legalizing psychoactive mushrooms cut down on opioid epidemic?