How a trip on magic mushrooms helped decriminalize psychedelic plants in a California city

How a trip on magic mushrooms helped decriminalize psychedelic plants in a California city

Carlos Plazola locked himself in a bedroom while his cousin stood guard.

For five hours, he tripped on magic mushrooms, nibbling the fungi and sipping them in tea. He ingested 5 grams — a heady amount that connoisseurs call the “heroic dose.”

It was Plazola’s first time using the mushrooms, which contain the naturally occurring hallucinogen psilocybin. He started having epiphanies, one right after the other, like lightning bolts.

“I was making connections that I had never made in terms of my understanding of what we are, what the cosmos are, why we’re here, where we’re going,” Plazola said.

That mushroom trip last October by Plazola, the well-connected onetime chief of staff of a former Oakland City Council president, helped make Oakland the first city in California and the second in the nation to effectively decriminalize magic mushrooms.

Plazola co-founded a group called Decriminalize Nature Oakland, which wrote the ordinance and successfully lobbied for its passage.

Psychedelic drugs, once widely derided as part of the hippie counterculture and the stuff of trippy “Alice in Wonderland”-style surrealism, are far from mainstream. But efforts to bring them out of the shadows and into the public realm are progressing at such a rapid clip that even supporters are surprised.

“Look at the decades of work that it took to get medical marijuana on the ballots,” said Brad Burge, a spokesman for Multidisciplinary Assn. for Psychedelic Studies, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit organization that researches psychedelic therapies. “Here, you have some of the first psychedelic decriminalization measures — and they’re passing.”

In May, Denver became the first city in the nation to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Voters approved a ballot initiative by such a razor-thin margin that multiple news outlets initially reported that it had failed.

It was easier in Oakland. The City Council on June 4 approved its ordinance unanimously, with little pushback. Oakland even went a step further by decriminalizing not just mushrooms but a range of other psychoactive plants and compounds including peyote, iboga and ayahuasca.


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Phone: 559-708-6460
Dated: June 24th 2019
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About Jon: My name is Jon Motsenbocker and I was born and raised in Fresno, California. I've been a licensed ag...

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