Oakland City Council decriminalizes all “natural psychedelics” in landmark resolution

Following last month’s historic ballot initiative in Denver that effectively decriminalized psilocybin magic mushrooms, Oakland City Council has gone one step further passing a resolution decriminalizing the adult use of all entheogenic plants, including magic mushrooms, cactus and any natural materials used to produce ayahuasca.

The Oakland City Council passed the resolution in a unanimous vote after council member Noel Gallo worked with community group Decriminalize Nature Oakland to draft the amendment. The resolution declares that no police or city agency, “shall use any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults.”

Unlike last month’s landmark initiative in Denver, which specifically targeted psychedelic mushrooms, this broader resolution groups together a variety of plants and fungi under the banner of entheogenic plants or plant compounds.

The term entheogen generally refers to psychoactive substances used in religious or spiritual contexts. The Oakland resolution more specifically defines the term in reference to plants and natural sources of psychoactive compounds including indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines. This specificity is important, as it does not include LSD, or other chemically derived psychoactive agents.

The resolution is impressively detailed in comparison to the recent Denver ballot initiative. As well as directing the District Attorney to cease any prosecutions currently underway involved in the use of entheogenic plants, it directs the city’s lobbyists to begin working on pathways for state, and ultimately federal, decriminalization.

The resolution is also quite clear on its directions to the local police stating:

“That the Mayor and City Council hereby declare that it shall be the policy of the City of Oakland that the investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Oakland.”

These two landmark city resolutions, in Denver and Oakland, look to be the first stages in a growing wave of grassroots activity pushing for psychedelic decriminalization in parts of the United States. While these small advocacy bodies are making inroads on local city council levels, the next stage will be to move toward statewide decriminalization measures.

Decriminalize California is one organization pushing for a ballot initiative to be entered for the upcoming 2020 state election. This initiative will only focus on a clear decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms. Activists in Oregon are also working towards getting a similar state ballot initiative for the 2020 election.