After Denver became the first city in the US to legalize magic mushrooms, Oakland is following suit. Several speakers testified before the City Council claiming that psychedelics helped them overcome depression, drug addiction, and PTSD, and the council voted unanimously to decriminalize the adult use and possession of mushrooms.
The new law makes the investigation of adults possessing, growing, using, or distributing entheogenic plants one of the lowest priorities for police, and city funds are not to be used to enforce laws criminalizing the substance. There is also a provision directing the city administrator to return to the council within a year to give an assessment of how the law is impacting the community.
Carlos Plazola, chair of the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Oakland, hailed the therapeutic properties of mushrooms. “Entheogenic plants and fungi,” he said, “are tremendous for helping to enable healing, particularly for folks who have experienced trauma in their lives. These plants are being recommended pretty extensively undercover, underground, by doctors and therapists.”
Councilmember Noel Gallo, who introduced the legislation, believes police should focus on real crime, not prosecution of users of the susbtance. “Growing up in the Mexican community,” said Gallo, “this was our cure. 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.”
Magic mushrooms do, however, remain illegal under state and federal law.