Oakland Decriminalizes Shrooms & Other Natural Psychedelics

By Victoria Kim 06/11/19
The City Council resolution passed with a unanimous vote.
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magic mushrooms have been decriminalized in Oakland

The use of psilocybin, mescaline or other natural psychedelic “drugs” can no longer be policed in the city of Oakland, California.

Last Tuesday (June 4), the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and other entheogenic plants including ayahuasca, cacti (mescaline) and iboga—i.e., “the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials… that can inspire personal and spiritual well-being, can benefit psychological and physical wellness, and can reestablish human’s inalienable and direct relationship to nature.”

Police can no longer “impose criminal penalties… or use any city funds to investigate or enforce the criminal penalties,” CNN explained. And according to the resolution, even people who are currently being prosecuted for the natural psychedelics in question will no longer be punished.

Denver was the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin in early May. Oakland’s resolution, meanwhile, covers a greater spectrum of natural psychedelics. However, synthetics such as LSD or MDMA are not included in the resolution.

Councilman Noel Gallo, who introduced the measure after being approached by Decriminalize Nature Oakland, said that growing up in a Native American family, he was familiar with the use of natural medicine. “We didn’t go to Walgreens for medication,” he told CNN. “My grandma had plants in her backyard that would heal us.”

During the night of the resolution’s passing, over 100 people testified about how they have been helped by natural psychedelics.

Researcher Matthew Johnson of Johns Hopkins University says there is reason to be optimistic about the ability of psilocybin, in particular, to positively impact mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, addiction and more.

“The data are really impressive,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We should be cautiously but enthusiastically pursuing these threads.”

Native communities have a long history of consuming peyote for ritual and medicinal use. Councilman Gallo referred to this fact in his agenda report.

Another benefit to decriminalization, Gallo said, is freeing police from having to enforce the prohibition of natural psychedelics so they may focus on larger crimes.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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