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California

Oakland becomes 2nd U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms

In this Friday, May 24, 2019 photo a vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a cannabis marketplace in L
A vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles on May 24.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

Oakland has voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants, including hallucinogenic magic mushrooms. It’s the second city in the United States to do so after Denver passed a similar measure last month for people 21 and older.

The City Council passed the resolution in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Presented by City Councilman Noel Gallo, the measure sets a citywide policy ending the investigation and imposition of criminal penalties for use and possession of hallucinogens derived from plants or fungi, such as mushrooms, cactuses and the iboga plant.

“Practices with Entheogenic Plants have long existed and have been considered to be sacred to human cultures and human interrelationships with nature for thousands of years, and continue to be enhanced and improved to this day by religious and spiritual leaders, practicing professionals, mentors, and healers throughout the world, many of whom have been forced underground,” the resolution stated, citing economic, environmental and social equity benefits to the city as well as possible health benefits in treating addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Last week, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee advanced the resolution to the full council. Councilman Loren Taylor, who abstained last week from voting on the measure, expressed concern at the time about the possibility of psychedelics becoming “the fad in schools.”

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In May, Denver decriminalized the use of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. Similar initiatives in Oregon, Iowa and elsewhere in the country are underway. California voters failed to get a similar measure on the ballot last year.

Decriminalize Nature Oakland, the group behind the Oakland resolution, started discussions in the community in early 2019. In March, the group had its first public educational event, with support from seven community organizations.

Gallo said there were no plans for the hallucinogens to be sold. Instead, they might be shared in collectives.

“Since DNO believes entheogens should not be commodified, there will be no sales of entheogenic plants and fungi, and we will work closely with local communities to share resources,” Gallo wrote in his agenda report to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “Concepts such as collectives could provide a space to have an experience, or ‘road people’ who could visit those in hospice care or unable to leave their home.”

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The resolution applies only to plant-based hallucinogens. Synthetic drugs such as LSD and MDMA are not included. And magic mushrooms would remain illegal under state and federal law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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