Late Tuesday night, the Public Affairs Committee of the Oakland City Council voted in favor of a bill to decriminalize psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.
The vote was three to zero, with one abstention, and the full Council will take the matter up on June 4, possibly making Oakland the second city in the U.S. (after Denver) to look the other way regarding its residents’ personal use.
The text of Councilman Neil Gallo’s bill includes a number of provisions regarding “entheogenic plants,” such as possible medical applications to treat “substance abuse, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress symptoms, chronic depression, severe anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, grief, diabetes, cluster headaches, and other conditions.” It also acknowledges the use of mushrooms in cultural or religious practices.
But the legislation’s primary aim is to remove one more pathway for American adults to become ensnared in the criminal-justice system simply for possessing a substance that may be more beneficial than federal law recognizes. Specifically, the bill says “the investigation and arrest of individuals involved with the adult use of entheogenic plants on the federal Schedule 1 list be amongst the lowest priority for the City of Oakland.” An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that induces a state of spiritual development (as opposed to, say, mere recreational enjoyment). Let’s just hope there isn’t a dumb loophole here since mushrooms are technically fungi and not plants.
As with cannabis, another Schedule 1 drug, the official policy of the United States government is that mushrooms have a high risk factor with zero medical potential. But this is changing. Denver voted to decriminalize mushrooms earlier in May. The state of Oregon may vote on the subject in 2020.