Oakland, California has become the second city in the United States to decriminalize the use and possession of psychedelic mushrooms, The Associated Press reports.
The Oakland City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night, just weeks after Denver voters narrowly approved a similar measure. Along with mushrooms containing psilocybin, the resolution also decriminalizes other psychedelics naturally derived from plants or fungi, such as ayahuasca, peyote and DMT. Synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA, are still illegal.
Similarly, psychedelic mushrooms and other natural hallucinogens are still illegal under California state law and federal law. The resolution also does not legalize the sale or distribution of psychedelic mushrooms.
The decision to approve decriminalization reportedly came after the Oakland City Council heard testimony from people who said psychedelics helped them battle depression, drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. But there were several amendments added to the resolution that urged caution, according to CBS: They stipulated that psychedelics aren’t for everyone, that people with severe depression or PTSD should seek professional help first and that those planning to trip, should do so with a friend present.
The push to decriminalize mushrooms in Oakland was led by Decriminalize Nature Oakland, while the resolution was brought by Democratic Councilmember Noel Gallo. Gallo said decriminalization would allow police to focus on more serious crimes, while he also spoke about how his grandmother would use plants, including naturally psychedelic ones, to treat various ailments.
“Growing up in the Mexican community, this was our cure,” he said, per local ABC affiliate WLOS. “We didn’t have a Walgreens. We didn’t have a way to pay for any drugs. These are plants we have known for thousands of years in our community and that we continue to use.”
Along with the successful decriminalization efforts in Oakland and Denver, organizers in Oregon are currently circulating a statewide petition that could put decriminalization on the ballot in time for the 2020 elections. In 2019, a similar state-wide campaign in California failed to garner the necessary signatures, though organizers behind it are trying to get it on the ballot again next year.