Oakland became the second U.S. city to decriminalize shrooms on Tuesday as City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the adult use and possession of magic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants and fungi. Denver voters in May approved a similar measure for people 21 and older.
The ordinance directs the city administrator to come back within a year to provide the council with an assessment of the law’s community impact. It also makes the investigation and arrest of adults who grow, possess, use or distribute entheogenic plants one of the lowest priorities for police. No city funds could be used to enforce laws criminalizing the substances, and the Alameda County District Attorney would stop prosecuting people who have been apprehended for use or possession.
Use of the plants “saved my life,” explained a man at the City Council meeting who described himself as a former heroin addict. “I don’t know how to describe it other than miraculous.”
Councilmember Noel Gallo, who introduced the resolution said decriminalizing such plants would enable Oakland police to focus on serious crime.
“Growing up in the Mexican community, this was our cure,” Gallo said. Hemp oils, mushrooms and yerba buenas — an aromatic plant known for its medicinal properties — “that was our Walgreens. We didn’t have a Walgreens. We didn’t have a way to pay for any drugs. These are plants we have known for thousands of years in our community and that we continue to use.”
Last night at the meeting supporters of traditional plant medicine like mushrooms, ayahuasca and peyote testified that psychedelics helped them overcome depression, drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. However they will still stay illegal under both federal and state laws. Mushrooms and other entheogenic substances remain as Schedule 1 drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act because the government still thinks they have potential for abuse and no medical value.
Entheogenic plants and fungi are tremendous for helping to enable healing, particularly for folks who have experienced trauma in their lives, explains Carlos Plazola, chair of the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Oakland. “These plants are being recommended pretty extensively undercover, underground, by doctors and therapists.
“Psychedelic plant medicine for treatment-resistant depression and PTSD provide hope to ameliorate the veteran suicide epidemic,” Ryan Miller of Oakland’s Decriminalize Nature told Stuff Stoners Like. Miller also founded Operation EVAC to help prevent suicide in the veteran community by hosting recurring social support groups. “Veterans defend rights and freedom and the freedom to ingest medicinal plants is important to fight for. In the halls of legislature, veteran voices resonate and I’m honed to lend my ice to this important initiative.”
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