Mere days after Denver’s voters passed a measure to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, the City of Oakland—California’s eighth-largest city—has scheduled a hearing to consider decriminalizing the psychedelic mushroom while also calling for an end to the repression and incarceration of those in possession of other psychedelic drugs including ayahuasca, mescaline cacti, and ibogaine.
According to Forbes, the proposed resolution would prohibit police or other local officials from devoting “any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession” of the natural substances.
The resolution will face a hearing before the Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee on May 28 and, if approved, will be brought before the Oakland City Council for a final vote.
While not strictly binding, the resolution would also classify the investigation and arrest of adults who use, cultivate or distribute the psychedelics as “amongst the lowest law enforcement priority,” and would resolve that the Council “wishes to declare its desire not to expend City resources in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants,” or psychedelics.
The move has been hailed by local advocacy group Decriminalize Natue.
In an interview, organizer Carlos Plazola said:
We already have support from at least five members of the Council, but our goal is to get eight out of eight to show unanimous support, because this affects all communities in Oakland.
It’s our turn now! Go #Oakland! Get the word out far and wide. Contact your councilmembers to support this. And especially, bring yourself and others to this important hearing. #DecriminalizeNature #entheogen pic.twitter.com/tzXtwzikum
— Decriminalize Nature (@DecrimNature) May 11, 2019
The resolution has found fulsome support from sponsoring Councilmember Noel Gallo. It would also instruct state and federal lobbyists from Oakland to push a decriminalization agenda. The resolution further calls for the Alameda County district attorney’s office to to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants or plant-based compounds” that are presently listed in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
A memo on the resolution from Gallo’s office read:
For millennia, cultures have respected entheogenic plants and fungi for providing healing, knowledge, creativity, and spiritual connection … scientific studies are demonstrating entheogens can be beneficial for treating conditions such as end-of-life anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, cluster-headaches, PTSD, neurodegeneration, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and treatment resistant depression, as well as reduce rates of intimate partner violence and recidivism.
The memo further added that plant- and fungi-based psychedelics should be free of excessive regulation that makes consumers “dependent on industry and authority for access.”
The memo explained:
By choosing to decriminalize nature, this empowers Oakland residents to be able to grow their own entheogens, share them with their community, and choose the appropriate setting for their intentions … As this national conversation on entheogens grows, we feel it is essential to influence the debate now and take a stand for disenfranchised communities who may be left out of the dominant model by opening a way for individual and community access.
Plazola added that the reform move will help “heal our relationship with the planet and raise the question: Why is it a criminal act to have a relationship with plants and fungi that are natural?”
The move comes as a growing body of research has laid out the benefits of magic mushrooms. Recent studies have shown how a microdose of psilocybin—far from the level needed for a full-blown trip—actually increases the creativity and empathy of participants.
It also comes as local governments throughout the U.S. have either passed or are actively considering bills that would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, allowing for their legal cultivation and sale. Advocates note that psilocybin has shown great promise in psychotherapeutic settings, shattering the decades-old stereotype of magic mushrooms as some intoxicating and hallucination-inducing party drug that drives users insane.