By Brad Dunn —
A religious group that believes psilocybin mushrooms played a central role in human evolution has sued the Oakland Police Department over a 2020 raid and seizure of its supply of the psychedelic “sacrament.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants says law enforcement violated its constitutional rights and religious freedom when officers confiscated about $200,000 worth mushrooms and cannabis. Police raided the East Oakland church in 2020 on claims it was running an unpermitted cannabis dispensary.
Dave Hodges, who founded the Church in 2019, told the Chronicle that its roughly 60,000 members believe psychedelics and cannabis not only help people “understand life, the world and the teachings from the spirits,” but also fueled the evolution of complex human communication and religion itself.
“This is not just an excuse to sell drugs,” he told the Chronicle. “This is what we truly believe is the origin of all religion and really what religion should be.”
Although psychedelic mushrooms are banned by federal and California law, organizations can petition for clearance to use generally banned Schedule 1 substances in religious contexts under U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration guidelines.
In addition to the seizure of its cannabis and psychedelics, Hodges claims police also caused at least $50,000 in damages to the Zide Door Church building.
“We’re really hoping in any way possible to hold the Oakland police department accountable for what they did,” he said, according to Vice.