A vote to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics in Oakland has left some residents confused about whether the substances have become commercially available.
Debby Goldsberry, CEO of Magnolia Wellness, told Marijuana Moment that her licensed marijuana shop has been “receiving calls from our members and interested community members, wondering if the dispensary was or would carry these products.”
While the City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of a resolution that bars the use of “any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties” against adults who using and possessing the plants and fungi, the measure specifically does not allow for their legal sale.
“Selling mushrooms would violate both our local and state licenses, and it would put us squarely in the crossfire of federal laws that treat these plant medicines as felonies,” Goldsberry said. “Magnolia Wellness, while appreciating their medicinal value, would never put our company, our member base or those in the community who depend on us for support at risk in order to provide medicinal mushrooms.”
Further, the shop’s staff doesn’t “have the experience of expertise to advise people on the use of psychedelic plant medicines,” she said.
Confusion over the distinction between decriminalization and commercial legalization isn’t confined to Oakland, or psychedelics laws for that matter.
A separate successful campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver last month was complicated by voters conflating the policy change with broader legalization. Kevin Matthews, campaign director of Decriminalize Denver, made education about the difference between the two policy reforms a cornerstone of the group’s outreach efforts.
“We spent a lot of time talking to people on the ground and letting them know that in terms of decriminalization, this is the kind of thing that’s simply going to keep people out of jail for using substances,” Matthews told Marijuana Moment. “I think it’s one thing we did a decent thing of was really letting people that you can’t go buy this at a dispensary.”
But whereas Decriminalize Denver spent months educating the public about their proposal as they collected signatures to place the measure on the ballot, the Oakland resolution was introduced and voted on in relatively short order.
That, Matthews said, likely contributed to misunderstandings about the policy implications. Another factor may be that the resolution’s sponsor in Oakland indicated just before the vote that legalization and regulated sales could follow.
“Now we have to agree on what’s being regulated and identify a pathway for distribution and sales,” Councilmember Noel Gallo told Marijuana Moment on the day his measure was approved. “Like with marijuana, we have to establish a process.”
But that plan may run up against resistance, including from reform-minded allies.
“I think that in terms of Oakland, it’s up to them to make it very clear that people can’t go buy this right now,” Matthews said. “And I don’t think anyone should be able to in a recreational setting like that.”
“I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that this is a people-powered movement, not a profit-powered movement. We have some time before we should even start considering any kind of recreational sales,” he said. “That could derail the whole damn movement.”
Decriminalize Nature, the campaign behind Oakland’s decriminalization victory, told Marijuana Moment that it does not support commercializing the plant-and fungi-based substances.
As an amendment attached to the resolution itself states, the measure “does not authorize or enable any of the following activities: commercial sale or manufacturing of these plants and fungi.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.