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Oakland Just Decriminalized 'shrooms to Restore the Community's "Relationship to Nature"

It will also allow police to focus their resources elsewhere, said the councilman who introduced the resolution.

by Trone Dowd
Jun 5 2019, 2:47pm

Oakland, California, just became the second U.S. city to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms and other naturally grown psychedelics.

The resolution, parts of which read like a groovy guide to getting high, was passed by the Oakland City Council Tuesday night in a unanimous vote.

“This initiative aims to empower the Oakland community by restoring their relationship to nature,” the resolution says. “The Oakland community behind this initiative believe it is an inalienable right to develop their own relationship with nature, both as a measure of personal liberty and to embrace what it means to be human on Planet Earth.”

The push to decriminalize the drug came from a groundswell of supporters in the progressive college town, including the Decriminalize Nature Oakland group. They say that psychedelics have effective medicinal uses for treating mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as spiritual applications in safe, recreational use.

According to Councilman Noel Gallo, who introduced the resolution, legalizing the drug would also allow Oakland police to focus their resources elsewhere.

“Entheogenic plant practices have long historical roots in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, yet this connection was severed for most of the global population long ago,” the resolution says. “Decriminalizing nature provides individual and community sovereignty to explore different levels of the human experience, including mystical and spiritual states of consciousness.”

There are a few exceptions in the resolution. While the new law decriminalizes the use of the drug, commercial distribution is still off the table. The law will also prohibit possession in schools.

Last month, Denver became the first American city to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi for residents 21 and older with the same goal: to refocus law enforcement resources toward more serious crimes. The bill, Initiative 301, narrowly passed with a 50.6 percent of the public vote.

While local governments are reassessing their approach to certain substances, psychedelic fanatics shouldn’t get too excited. Like marijuana before it, psychedelic plants and fungi are still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, citing unpredictable sides effects like nausea, lack of coordination, and even overdose.

Cover: In this May 24, 2019, photo, a vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles. Oakland City Council will vote Tuesday, June 4, 2019, to decriminalize the possession and use of entheogenic, or psychoactive, plants and fungi. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)