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As California Prop. 1 vote looms, poll shows support for expanded mental health care

Sacramento Bee - 1/31/2024

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


A strong majority—81%—of Californians say that it is very important for state policymakers to focus on increasing mental health access this year, according to a survey published Wednesday by the California Health Care Foundationand NORC at the University of Chicago.

Pollsters surveyed 3,431 California adults between Sept. 18 and Oct. 25 of 2023, and found that a quarter of them said that either they or someone close to them has needed treatment for serious mental illness, with 21% saying they’ve needed treatment for substance use or addiction.

Two-thirds of Calfiornians believe that the state needs to strengthen treatment for people with serious mental illness, and 64% said the same for substance abuse and addiction.

More than a third (36%) of Californians with low incomes said that they have experienced homelessness in the past five years. Black (32%) and Latinx (24%) Californians were more likely than other demographic groups to report being homeless.

More than half (53%) of Californians postponed getting medical care because of prohibitive costs in the last year. That number rises to 74% when low-income Californians were surveyed, with 54% of them reporting worsening medical conditions due to skipping care.

This survey comes as Californians will soon begin voting on whether to approve Proposition 1, a ballot measure that would channel $6.4 billion in bonds into spending on homelessness and behavioral and mental health in the state.


As President Joe Biden’s administration considers the possibility of reclassifying marijuana, a group of U.S. senators, including California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, have written a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Drug Enforcement Administrationhead Anne Milgram, saying that’s not going far enough or fast enough.

Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, the “worst offender” category of controlled substances that also includes heroin and LSD.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recommended re-scheduling marijuana to a lighter, more flexible Schedule III designation.

“While rescheduling to Schedule III would mark a significant step forward, it would not resolve the worst harms of the current system. Thus, the DEA should deschedule marijuana altogether. Marijuana’s placement in the (Controlled Substances Act) has had a devastating impact on our communities and is increasingly out of step with state law and public opinion,” the letter to Garland and Milgram reads in part.

Other signatories of the letter include Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland; Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Peter Welch, D-Vermont and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, also has signed on.


“It’s no surprise that corporate polluters are fighting against being held accountable for their contributions to the climate crisis, they’ve been doing it for decades.”

- Mary Creasman, CEO of California Environmental Voters, in a statement responding to CalChamber’s lawsuit to block a pair of corporate environmental accountability laws.

Best of The Bee:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and key lawmakers at the Capitol are struggling to find a consensus over how to reform solitary confinement, and there are few solutions in sight, via Lindsey Holden.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its California counterpart on Tuesday took legal action to block two 2023 state corporate climate accountability laws from going into effect, via Andrew Sheeler.

Sacramento State will become home to a new school designed to support Black and African American students later this year that its president says will be the first of its kind in the nation, via Darrell Smith.

Trees at more than 2,000 homes in a California city will be stripped of their fruit, according to a state agency, via Daniella Segura.

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