On June 4, Oakland decriminalized magic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants after more than 30 people testified and shared how psychedelics have helped them overcome depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Magic mushrooms, or psilocybin, are naturally occurring mushrooms consumed for their hallucinogenic effects. The specific effects of magic mushrooms vary from person to person but often include feelings of euphoria and wellbeing, as well as changes in consciousness, mood or perception. Magic mushrooms can be eaten fresh, cooked, brewed in tea, or dried and smoked.

Oakland passed the decriminalization resolution in a unanimous vote and will require law enforcement to end any and all investigations surrounding the use or possession of plant-sourced drugs including fungi, cacti, the iboga plant and mushrooms that contain the hallucinogen psilocybin. However, LSD, MDMA and other synthetic drugs are not included. The decriminalization is expected to allow law enforcement to focus on more serious, high-priority crime.

Many of the people who testified and supported the measure said that they struggled with addiction and emotional pain for years before trying hallucinogens.

Entheogenic plant use is not new. Naturally-occurring drugs — including mushrooms and cacti — were used for thousands of years to help battle psychiatric imbalances. Many cultures consider practices with entheogenic plants to be sacred to human interrelationships.

Not all who testified were in support of decriminalization though. Some felt that Oakland should wait to see what happens in Denver first. Others were worried about the use of psychedelics in schools and among youth.

Local lawmakers are working to establish regulations to control how the substance is used and what potential risks are involved. A year from now, city administrators will meet again to provide City Council an assessment of how the law impacted the community.

Currently, city councilman Noel Gallo, who presented the resolution, said that there are no plans to sell the hallucinogens.

“Since DNO believes entheogens should not be commodified, there will be no sales of entheogenic plants and fungi, and we will work closely with local communities to share resources,” Gallo wrote in a report to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Instead, they will be shared in collectives, so there is space to have an experience. People in hospice or who are unable to leave their homes can also come to visit.

As of early May, mushrooms are decriminalized in Denver for people 21 and older. Oregon and Iowa are currently working to introduce mushroom bill legislation. Last year, California voters were unsuccessful in getting a similar measure on the ballot.

Though the resolution decriminalizes magic mushrooms in Oakland, they are still illegal under state and federal law. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies entheogenic substances as Schedule I substances, meaning that they fall into a category of drugs that have the potential for abuse and no medical value.

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