Oakland, CA on Tuesday followed the lead of Denver, CO and became only the second US city to decriminalize magic mushrooms. The City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the adult use and possession of magic mushrooms and other entheogenic, or psychoactive, plants and fungi. Denver voters in May approved a similar measure for people 21 and older, reports The Denver Post.
Speakers overwhelmingly supported the move, describing substances such as ayahuasca and peyote as traditional plant-based medicines. A string of speakers testified that psychedelics helped them overcome depression, drug addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Use of the plants “saved my life,” said one man who described himself as a former heroin addict. “I don’t how to describe it other than miraculous.”
The vote 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.
Councilmember Noel Gallo, who introduced the resolution, had said decriminalizing such plants would enable Oakland police to focus on serious crime. Amendments offered by Councilmember Loren Taylor added caveats that the substances “are not for everyone,” recommending that people with PTSD or major depression seek professional help before using them and that people “don’t go solo” but seek expert guidance and have a trusted friend present during the use.
Magic mushrooms would remain illegal under both federal and state laws. Entheogenic substances are considered Schedule 1 drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes drugs that have the potential for abuse and no medical value.