OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Oakland city leaders unanimously voted to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms and one city councilmember says the move will help Oakland tackle other serious issues.
“We need all the help we can get,” answered Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, when asked why he proposed the resolution decriminalizing Entheogenic plants like mushrooms, cacti and iboga.
“Growing up here in Oakland all my life…I have never seen the conditions that exist today with human beings with mental challenges.”
He was unsure how the city council would receive his proposal at first, but it was unanimously approved, “due to the fact that what is currently in our streets, whether it’s San Francisco, Oakland, we have mental challenges here that we need to address.”
The council was primed to approve the measure after seeing the process play out with marijuana legalization, according to Gallo, who sees Entheogenic plant legalization following the same playbook. The Oakland resolution calls for the City Administrator to come back in one year with an “assessment of community impacts and benefits.”
Just like with marijuana, Gallo said, “We’re going to study it, we’re going to find out more about it, we’re going to eventually probably put it on the market down the line.”
“You’ll be able to sell it, buy it, and use it and have some real strict restrictions on it…and I see that coming in a year or two,” he predicted.
Some backers of the resolution are working on a statewide ballot measure to decriminalize at least “magic mushrooms” – and maybe more substances. Voters can expect to see that “in the near future,” he said.
Carlos Blazola, the Chair of Decriminalize Nature Oakland, confirms the statewide effort to decriminalize magic mushrooms, but Oakland’s resolution includes far more plants than just mushrooms.
“We’re suggesting that they consider the other plants that we’ve included in ours, but if they choose to just do mushrooms then we would support them with that because they are very healing,” says Blazola.
In the meantime, we can expect other cities to follow Oakland’s lead. (And Oakland is leading; Denver has a law that only decriminalizes “magic mushrooms” while Oakland’s goes far beyond that plant to include “all plant-based compounds on the Federal Schedule 1 List.”)
Gallo has heard from a number of residents of Berkeley and other Bay Area locals who want to pursue a similar resolution. And Bazola claims “about half dozen cities” have called him for help because they want to replicate Oakland’s actions.
It will be a process of trial and error. Gallo worked with the Oakland Police Department to add restrictions to his original resolution.
While police will not disturb a person sitting in their house, consuming Entheogenic plants, the law does not authorize, “commercial sales or manufacturing of these plants and fungi, possessing or distributing these materials in schools, driving under the influence of these materials, or public disturbance.”
In sum, as of today, “you can have a choice” when looking for medicine in Oakland, says Gallo. “Either go to the liquor store, go to Walgreens, marijuana or eat your mushrooms.”