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Oakland Activists Are Trying to Legalize the Sales of Psychedelics by Year's End
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One year after successfully convincing Oakland city officials to decriminalize natural psychedelics, advocates are drafting a proposal that would create a health-focused, regulated psychedelics retail market.
Published on January 31, 2020

Last year, the city of Denver made history by decriminalizing the possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms. Oakland and numerous other cities across the US have since passed resolutions that make natural hallucinogens the lowest priority for law enforcement to pursue. Now, activists in Oakland are looking to ride the wave of hallucinatory reform even further, by pushing for the legal, regulated sales of these natural entheogens.

Decriminalize Nature, the advocacy group that helped push the Oakland City Council to decriminalize psilocybin, ayahuasca, and other natural psychedelics last June, is now working on a proposal for an adult-use psychedelics retail market. City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who helped draft last year's decriminalization ordinance, will be on hand again to help draft the full legalization proposal.

“This will be an unprecedented, comprehensive effort with clear intention: To use as many tools available, including leading scientific research and clinical research in psychedelics and entheogenic plant and fungi use, to heal our Oakland community,” Gallo said in a statement reported by Marijuana Moment.

Pushing for psychedelics reform is, indeed, inspired by cannabis advocates' successful legalization efforts. But this new wave of activists hope to avoid some of the errors made by their predecessors. “We don’t want to make the same mistakes we made with cannabis where we created scarcity and complexity that enabled run-away profiteering,” said Decriminalize Nature Chair Carlos Plazola to Marijuana Moment.

“Our approach with these sacred plants is to decriminalize throughout the US, and then in areas that have achieved this basic standard of equitable access for all people through decriminalization, to then pursue a regulatory framework emerging from compassion, with the clear intention of prioritizing healing above profits,” Plazola added.

Decriminalize Nature plans to kick off its advocacy efforts next month. The group plans to organize a group of local “elders and spiritual leaders” to help them draft a regulatory framework that will be “community-driven, bottom-up, and focused on compassion and healing, first and foremost.” The first draft of the proposal will be submitted to Oakland officials this September.

Since Denver and Oakland took their first steps towards psychedelics reform, similar efforts are being organized in over 100 US cities, and Santa Cruz just decriminalized natural psychedelics this week. Decriminalize California is currently collecting signatures for a ballot measure to legalize adult-use psilocybin statewide, Oregon activists are petitioning for a ballot measure to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, and Vermont lawmakers have proposed their own psychedelic decriminalization bill.

This ongoing push for reform is largely driven by a wealth of new research showing that psilocybin and other natural entheogens can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and other conditions with few side effects. The results of these initial studies are so promising, in fact, that the federal government may even legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy within the next few years.

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Chris Moore
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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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