By Alex Star
On Tuesday, June 4th, 2019, after fifty years of federal prohibition, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to decriminalize all plants and fungi currently listed on the FDA Schedule 1 list. This list includes literally hundreds of species of plants and fungi known to have, either alone or in combination, profound spiritual and visionary effects when ingested by homo sapiens. This list includes the best known and most powerful substances: Ayahuasca, DMT, Psilocybin Mushrooms, Iboga, and Peyote Cactus.
All the plants and fungi included in the decriminalization measure passed by Oakland City Council, are what we in the activist community, have termed “entheogens”, a word which shares the same root as the word “enthusiasm” and essentially means “that which insights divinity or the divine experience”. You may already be aware of the sacred medicines Ayahuasca and Psilocybin Mushrooms, and but are probably more familiar with the more commonly used word “psychedelics”. “Psychedelic” is a catch-all term describing substances with profoundly expansionary impacts on human consciousness. However, we activists responsible for the measure passed on June 4th, felt the word “entheogen” to be more correct and also more palatable to the common person.
The power of the word “entheogen” is that it is a clear slate from which to have the conversation regarding their use.
Q: What is an entheogen, and what does it mean to decriminalize?
A: An entheogen, for the purposes of this article, is any plant or fungal body, and the derivatives thereof, with the ability to bring about profound spiritual experiences and mind-expanding perceptions when consumed by humans.
“Decriminalization” effectively means that, while entheogenic plants and fungi are still federally illegal, the City of Oakland has decided that the City itself, including the police department, will expend zero time, money, or resources in the prosecution of people for possessing, distributing, or growing any of the above listed plants and fungi.
We live in a society which seems utterly intent on destroying our own planetary ecosystems to the extent that human life can no longer be supported. The dominant human culture has forgotten the intrinsic connection we share with all life, and recklessly destroys millions of lives and the fragile systems supporting in order for the controlling members of our society to enjoy a few more years of limitless consumption and growth.
Entheogenic plants and fungal life forms, reconnect our consciousness to our own fundamental place as singular organisms within a much larger planetary system. At the same time as our society accelerates full-steam towards our own destruction, these mushrooms and plants, with the ability to heal the profound sickness of the human soul, have been declared illegal by the systems controlling our society.Few things in the world are more important than getting the power of entheogenic plants and fungi out to the masses. Sacred plants, fungi, and medicines, which we now call “entheogens” are, the most powerful method for reintegrating sanity into our mainstream culture. It was for this reason that an amazing group of activists, from all walks of life, including Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Susana Valadez, came together to tell the story of the power of sacred entheogens and the need to decriminalize before the Oakland City Council. In testament to the potential and power of this cause, in healing wounds and bridging social divides, every single council member present voted “yes” that night.
Full credit to the bravery of the Oakland City Council, they did not have to pass this measure, and certainly did not have to pass it unanimously, one or two council members could have easily said “nay” or even abstained from voting altogether. It is thanks to the unanimous decision by the Oakland City Council, that the Decriminalize Nature Measure, has now spread to almost one hundred cities across the United States.
This whole movement started when a few people came together around a small garden dedicated to entheogenic plants in Oakland, and has very quickly spread to a national movement.
The Decriminalize Nature team is made up of people from every demographic and walks of life, which really demonstrates the universal nature of the need to reconnect and the power entheogenic practice to inspire, heal, and empower people and communities.
Entheogenic mushrooms and plants are the very spirit of our Mother Earth reaching out to us, to heal our collective consciousness and help us to bring our existence into alignment with the greater planetary systems in which we are intrinsically a part.
This connection, if we reach out with all our strength, might just save us all.