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Oakland decriminalizes 'magic mushrooms,' other psychedelic drugs

Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 05, 2019

You may not see them popping up in dispensaries yet, but Oakland just allowed the use of "magic mushrooms" and other natural psychedelics.

On Tuesday, Oakland's City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the use of 'shrooms and other natural psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs, including cacti, becoming the second city in the country to take this step.

The drugs still aren't necessarily legal, but the resolution means police cannot impose criminal penalties for using the natural drugs or use any city funds to investigate or enforce the criminal penalties. Even people currently being prosecuted for these kinds of drugs are now off the hook, according to the resolution.

Denver was the first city to enact this kind of ordinance, in May. But Oakland's goes further: where Denver's ordinance was focused on '"magic mushrooms" -- which contain psilocybin -- Oakland is decriminalizing any plant or fungi that has hallucinogenic or pschedelic properties. That's a first for any US city, but it doesn't apply to drugs such as LSD or MDMA, which are synthetic.

Backers are hoping it saves the city money

The resolution was introduced by City Council member Noel Gallo and backed by Decriminalize Nature Oakland , a group that promotes natural psychedelics for health benefits.

In Gallo's agenda report, he referenced the use of peyote in Native American communities. The evening of the resolution's signing, over 100 people testified about the way natural psychedelics have helped them.

Gallo is from a Native American family, and he told CNN these kinds of natural psychedelics were familiar to him while growing up in Oakland.

"We didn't go to Walgreens for medication," he said. "My grandma had plants in her backyard that would heal us."

He also said that implementing the resolution would reduce the resources Oakland police use in investigating these crimes, so they could focus on more pressing matters in the city instead.

The drugs have been shown to have health benefits

The push for decriminalizing these natural psychedelics comes following research that they have health benefits, notably for people experiencing mental health issues, such as depression.

Last year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that psilocybin, which is in 'shrooms, have medicinal benefits and a low risk for abuse.

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