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As California moves toward decriminalizing psychedelics, moms push back

California moves toward decriminalizing psychedelics
California moves toward decriminalizing psychedelics 04:00

SACRAMENTO -- California legislation that could decriminalize psychedelics including mushrooms is one step closer to becoming reality.

Senate Bill 58 authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-S.F.) was approved by the appropriations committee Friday and could make California the largest state to legalize the consumption and possession of certain hallucinogens.

Studies from Johns Hopkins, UCLA and NYU have shown that controlled use of the psychedelics set for decriminalization can help treat depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health disorders.

In a new poll conducted by UC Berkeley, 61% of American voters support the use of therapeutic psychedelics -- regulated and lawfully distributed -- to treat mental health disorders. 

The bill has seen support from veterans groups and mental health advocates who say in moderation, the drugs can have more positive effects than do harm. Wiener argues that decriminalization of the hallucinogens often leads to smarter usage.

"The 'war on drugs' has been a failure in criminalizing drug use and possession accomplishes absolutely nothing," Wiener said in support of the legislation.

Not all are on board. A group of mothers has been critical in pushing back against the legislation.

New research by a group of doctors at Stanford shows hallucinogen-related hospitalizations spiked 74% between 2016 and 2021. Adverse effects to the drugs can include psychological trauma, erratic behavior and accidental injury that can lead to death. 

That's what Lisa Hudson is afraid of.

"Fearless enthusiasm ... that was my boy," Hudson recalled as she walked around her home where her late son Shayne is on prominent display.

"Shane was is, an amazing, sparkly soul," she said. "He was light, love and joy."

Today, she's speaking out against Senate Bill 58 which would decriminalize hallucinogens including mushrooms -- the drug her son took that led to his fatal accident in early 2020.

"His eyes were as big as saucers," Hudson remembers. "He did start iterating over and over again but he was talking to God and about life ... and he says God is all about love and life is love ..."

Hudson explained that she was getting ready to take Shayne to the emergency room concerned he may have had an adverse reaction to mushrooms which she had learned minutes before that he had consumed.

"As we're getting up to get dressed, Shane stands upright and runs down our stairs and runs out on the deck and, as I went after him down the stairs -- as I hit the bottom of the stairs -- I see him running off the deck saying 'I got this! I got this!' and he plunged 40 feet into our backyard and passed away in my husband's arms while I was calling 911."

In the wake of her son's death. Hudson found other moms who had similar experiences, losing their kids to accidents after consuming hallucinogens. They formed a group to rally against SB 58.

"My biggest concern is hearing a lot more stories about kids like Shayne," Hudson said.

She says she has no problem with the drugs being decriminalized, acknowledging the positive effects hallucinogens have on mental health treatment plans. But safeguards -- like public education and first responder training -- Hudson says, need to come first.

"Something needs to happen to make sure that our community -- our kids are safe. As safe as they possibly can be."

Hudson hopes others will look to her son as a source of light and learning as time goes on.

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