Oakland church that gives cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms as communion sues over police raid

An East Oakland church that ministers cannabis and psychedelic plants as a sacrament has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department over a 2020 police raid.

The Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants, a congregation of the Church of Ambrosia, filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that the city, the police department and a police officer violated their Amendment 1 and 14 rights and prohibited the city’s land use statute the group performing religious ceremonies and sacraments using psychedelics and cannabis at his church.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in which Oakland police raided the Zide Door Church at 10th Ave. on August 13, 2020. Raided in 1216 over allegations that the church was functioning as an apothecary. Official John Romero said the church was listed as a commercial cannabis dispensary on the open-source website Weedmaps, and that the Oakland Bureau to Combat Harassment received an anonymous complaint in May 2019 that the church served as a dispensary.

The Oakland Police Department said it is not commenting on pending lawsuits. Oakland City Atty. Barbara Parker said her office had not been served with the lawsuit as of Wednesday afternoon.

The church denies that its location has been identified on the website and says it does not advertise its religious practices, meaning people could only find out through video presentations of its services or through word of mouth, according to the complaint. The church also said members pay a monthly fee of $5 and donate to receive cannabis and mushrooms grown by the church.

The Zide Door Church says Romero applied for church membership under a false name and with an invalid or counterfeit California driver’s license, the lawsuit states. Romero is said to have signed a membership agreement confirming that the church does not operate as a dispensary, has joined as a monthly member and has purchased 3.5 grams of cannabis bud, which the church says is to be consumed locally and not for personal use are individual use.

Romero searched the church, damaging five safes and seizing papers, inventory logs and $200,000 worth of cannabis and mushroom products, a computer and cash totaling more than $4,500, according to the complaint.

The church, which preaches against non-religious alcohol and drug use, was founded in Oakland in January 2019. She alleges that because of the Oakland Municipal Code, which requires a city permit to operate shops and facilities, and because of the religious use of entheogenic plants, including cannabis, not permitted under Oakland’s land use statutes, the Church can, under the complaint of not legally practicing their religious beliefs.

The complaint also related to Resolution 87731, passed by the Oakland City Council on June 4, 2019, prohibiting the City and the Oakland Police Department from using city funds to enforce laws restricting the use and possession of entheogenic plants punish.

Church founder Dave Hodges said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he preached sermons at the Oakland building every week and distributed joints to members before the service began. He stressed that mushrooms should be taken off-site, where members are not required to drive for at least eight hours after consumption. Members have no limit on how much Sacrament they can receive.

“This isn’t just an excuse for selling drugs,” Hodges said. “This is a sincere belief and the work I personally do with shrooms is with the really high doses. I have no doubt that mushrooms were the first way our ancient ancestors understood that there was more to this existence.”

Surveillance video shared with The Times showed about half a dozen officers, some armed with guns, approaching the church’s doors. Security guards hired by the church are then shown walking outside with their hands raised. Several firefighters then stormed into a safe inside the church with what appeared to be an electric saw.

“They ambushed us like we were some kind of crime family they were going to take down, or a meth house,” Hodges said. “They came with guns blazing, which they shouldn’t have done. You could have accomplished the same thing with two cops with no guns drawn. This was a classic smash and grab scenario where they took our sacrament, they took our money and they never pressed charges.”

Hodges also referenced the Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance, also known as Measure Z, which was passed in 2004 and required the city to establish a system to license, regulate, and tax cannabis for adult use. Hodges said that since the ordinance was approved, Romero has waged a campaign of “smash-and-grabs” against Measure Z clubs that would result in the store closing a few weeks before reopening. Around the time Zide Door Church was raided, Hodges said at least four clubs had been raided.

The church is seeking an injunction requiring the city to approve the land use application and exempt religious uses of entheogenic plants as part of the application process, the complaint said.

“We want the Oakland PD to leave us alone and for the City of Oakland to consider us legitimate,” Hodges said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-17/oakland-church-that-gives-cannabis-psychedelic-mushrooms-as-communion-sues-over-police-raid Oakland church that gives cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms as communion sues over police raid

Alley Einstein

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button