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Oakland California Becomes Second City to Decriminalize Hallucinogenic Drugs

June 7, 2019 Criminal Law and Procedure

About a month after Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize the use of psilocybin mushrooms, Oakland, California, moved to decriminalize the possession and use of all natural hallucinogenic drugs.

New Legal Status for Hallucinogenic Drugs in Oakland

The Oakland, California, city council moved to make the investigation and enforcement against possession and use of natural hallucinogens to be the lowest police enforcement priority. So while not technically legal, at least Oakland police officers are uninterested in going after users. This decriminalization applies to plant-based hallucinogens, such as psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, mescaline, ayahuasca, and ibogaine.

What Are These Plants?

These plants, known as entheogens, are plants that produce hallucinations for users. Hallucinations could include distorted perceptions, dissociation, and altered sights and sounds of varying degrees. Such entheogens are not known to be habit forming and overdose is not a concern as with use of heroin, fentanyl, or other such narcotics.

Cultures from North and South America and Africa have used such plants for centuries to create spiritual experiences. More recently, scientific studies have focused on the ability of these plants to help people suffering from anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and mental strain from those nearing death.

What Does The Law Not Do?

While the decriminalization applies to the city of Oakland, this decriminalization does not extend to the state of California or federal laws. A person could still get in trouble in Oakland for use or possession of such plants based on which type of law enforcement they encounter. A proposed ballot initiative aimed at decriminalization failed to make it on the ballot in California last year.

The law decriminalizes use of plant-based hallucinogens. The decriminalization does not extend to synthetic hallucinogens, such as LSD or MDMA / Ecstasy.

In addition, there are no plans to commercialize the retail sale of these plants.

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Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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