The decriminalization of drugs is a trend that has started to take hold over the last decade and is going to explode in the 2020. California is known to be on the forefront of many trends, good and bad, that take place in the US.
During the 1960s, the city of San Francisco was known as a “mecca” for the pagan hippie movement, of which a major part of that movement involved the use of illegal drugs. Not surprisingly, as many states are legalizing marijuana and other drugs, the city of Oakland, a neighbor to San Francisco, is now the second in the nation to legalize mushrooms that cause psychedelic effects, known to some as “magic mushrooms” according to a report:
Oakland on Tuesday became the second U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms after a string of speakers testified that psychedelics helped them overcome depression, drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the adult use and possession of magic mushrooms and other entheogenic, or psychoactive, plants and fungi. Denver voters in May approved a similar measure for people 21 and older.
Speakers overwhelmingly supported the move, describing substances such as ayahuasca and peyote as traditional plant-based medicines.
Use of the plants “saved my life,” said one man who described himself as a former heroin addict. “I don’t how to describe it other than miraculous.”
Some offered mystical descriptions of the hallucinogens as providing spiritual healing.
The vote makes the investigation and arrest of adults who grow, possess, use or distribute entheogenic plants one of the lowest priorities for police. No city funds could be used to enforce laws criminalizing the substances, and the Alameda County District Attorney would stop prosecuting people who have been apprehended for use or possession.
Councilmember Noel Gallo, who introduced the resolution, had said decriminalizing such plants would enable Oakland police to focus on serious crime.
Amendments offered by Councilmember Loren Taylor added caveats that the substances “are not for everyone,” recommending that people with PTSD or major depression seek professional help before using them and that people “don’t go solo” but seek expert guidance and have a trusted friend present during the use.
The ordinance also directs the city administrator to come back within a year to provide the council with an assessment of the law’s community impact.
“Entheogenic plants and fungi are tremendous for helping to enable healing, particularly for folks who have experienced trauma in their lives,” Carlos Plazola, chair of the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Oakland, said before the council meeting. “These plants are being recommended pretty extensively undercover, underground, by doctors and therapists.”
The Oakland Police Department did not respond to emailed messages from the Associated Press seeking comment before the meeting. Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick declined to comment.
Magic mushrooms would remain illegal under both federal and state laws. Entheogenic substances are considered Schedule 1 drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes drugs that have potential for abuse and no medical value.
Skeptics had raised concerns about unsafe use, especially in schools.
To address such concerns, Gallo said earlier, lawmakers would have to establish rules and regulations about the use of such substances, including what exactly can be used, how to use them and what associated risks are.
Entheogenic plants have long been used in religious and cultural contexts. Gallo remembers his grandmother treating his family members with plants, including entheogenic ones, for a variety of ailments.
“Growing up in the Mexican community, this was our cure,” Gallo said. Hemp oils, mushrooms and yerba buenas — an aromatic plant known for its medicinal properties — “that was our Walgreens. 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.” (source, source)
It will be interesting to see what further drugs are legalized and what other remain banned. For example, marijuana and magic mushrooms, while some have touted health benefits, are used also heavily in pagan rituals by many different peoples, from the American Indians all the way to Nordic neopagans. At the same time, there is a push against opiates, and while opium can be used with seriously negative consequences due to its addictive properties, it is also a proven medication that is used throughout the world to manage pain and contrary to popular opinion, it is very difficult to produce on its own.
What one is witnessing is not simply a “decriminalization” of drugs, but rather a re-structuring of the laws to a new cultural norm, and from what it appears, not simply to be in the best “medicinal” interests of people, but rather to prime the conditions for paganism as drugs are often used to lower personal inhibitions so that a person is more willing to accept ideas that are objectively wrong. Hence is the emphasis that seems to be on drugs that induce psychedelic conditions rather than those for pain medication, for while all of them can be addictive and destructive, it is the conditions which they can cultivate in a person that is of concern.
Much of drug policy in the US is not intended to help people, but rather to manufacture certain social and political conditions from people who do not care one thought about the welfare of the common man. The changes to future drug policy will reflect this, and it will be important to see what changes are made and what their consequences for society will be.