Decriminalizing psychedelic drugs? It could happen in Oakland

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — An initiative to decriminalize psychedelic drugs in Oakland is moving closer to becoming a reality. If passed, it would become the first of its kind in the country.

Next week, Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee will host a hearing to discuss the resolution to Decriminalize Entheogenic Plants. At this hearing, the committee will decided whether or not to advance this item to the council for a final vote.

Carlos Plazola is the co-founder of Decriminalize Nature, a group pushing for the resolution, which focuses on ayahuasca, psilocybin (mushrooms), ibogaine and cacti plants.

“For those who have not experienced these, it’s kind of like jumping out of an airplane and into a rain forest somewhere momentarily,” he explained of the drugs.

Plazola is part of a growing movement to destigmatize these drugs, which advocates say are natural healers for people experiencing things like PTSD or trauma. He says they changed his own life.

“I actually experienced a lot of childhood trauma,” Plazola told ABC7. “After a mushroom journey, I was able to get past the locked-in patterns and now I don’t get frustrated or angry.”

According to Plazola, the resolution in Oakland would only include decriminalizing the natural plants with psychoactive compounds and not manufactured drugs such as “Molly,” LSD and heroin.

So far, there’s little organized opposition to the resolution. Although, people ABC7 spoke to in Oakland said they had some reservations.

“It’s a little bit of a grey area,” Jaclyn Lau said. “I don’t know if I’m 100 percent behind that.”

Quinton Tyler was also on the fence.

“Some of it actually can cause harmful effects, you know, brain-wise and overall body-wise,” Tyler said, “So some things need to be criminalized, some things can be helpful to your overall body.”

A similar resolution recently passed in Denver. Decriminalize Nature, however, is hoping Oakland will go further, believing legalized marijuana has paved the way.

“This entire movement,” Plazola explained, “is really on the shoulder of those who have led the way with cannabis.”

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