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Church that offers cannabis and psilocybin sacrament launches lawsuit after police raid

Aug 18, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

‘This is what we truly believe is the origin of all religion and really what religion should be’

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A 2020 raid on a California church that gives cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms as communion had led to a lawsuit against the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department.

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Cannabis and mushrooms valued at US$200,000 ($258,000) were seized during the raid on Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants, but no one was arrested or charged, reports the Washington Post. The seized items were also never returned.

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Cannabis, of course, is legal in California and the possession of natural psychedelics, such as mushrooms, was decriminalized in Oakland in 2019.

The church is arguing that the Oakland Police Department and an Oakland police officer violated the first and 14th amendments by discriminating against the church’s religious beliefs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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The first amendment “protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” while the 14th amendment guarantees all citizens “equal protection of the laws.”

On its website, the church describes itself as following a non-denominational, interfaith religion, The Church of Ambrosia, that supports the use and safe access of all entheogenic plants.

Led by founder Dave Hodges, the church reportedly held weekly sermons, with Hodges adorned in a robe covered in pictures of cannabis plants, before the pandemic began.

Members of the church pay a monthly fee of US$5 and donate money to the church to obtain sacrament, which is the cannabis and mushrooms grown by the church. The church has reportedly issued 60,000 memberships.

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Hodges told the Chronicle that taking mushrooms allows him to experience God and that he believes the world’s first religions were created after humans experienced the entheogenic plant.

“Nothing exists but one consciousness, which is the consciousness that I call God. We do believe that this is the truest form of religion — having your own direct experience with God,” he said.

“This is not just an excuse to sell drugs,” he added. “This is what we truly believe is the origin of all religion and really what religion should be.”

The raid was reportedly prompted after police received a tip that the church was acting as a dispensary.

In 2020, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize and regulate therapeutic psilocybin, while also decriminalizing small amounts of all drugs.

Other U.S. cities, including Washington, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor, have reclassified plant-based psychedelics as a low priority for local law enforcement. In 2019, Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin.

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