An Oakland church filed a lawsuit against the city on Friday, asserting that law enforcement crossed the line during a 2020 raid centered around the distribution of psychedelic mushrooms.
The Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants alleges that “the city, police department and a police officer violated its 1st and 14th amendment rights and that the city’s land use code prohibits the group from conducting religious ceremonies and sacraments involving psychedelics and cannabis inside its church,”
The impetus for the lawsuit is an August 13, 2020, raid on the church conducted by Oakland police predicated on allegations that Zide Door was operating as a dispensary.
The lawsuit asserts that the raid was orchestrated by a police officer named John Romero, who “applied for church membership under a false name and using an invalid or forged California driver’s license,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Romero allegedly signed a membership agreement acknowledging that the church isn’t operating as a dispensary, joined as a monthly member and bought 3.5 grams of cannabis buds, which the church says is intended to be consumed on-site and isn’t for personal or individual use,” the Times reports. “Romero searched the church, damaging five safes and seizing paperwork, inventory logs, cannabis and mushroom products, a computer and cash totaling more than $4,500, according to the complaint.”
Zide Door’s pastor and co-founder, Dave Hodges, has insisted from the start that the church is no dispensary.
Planning the Psychedelic Church Raid
The raid was more than a year in the making.
The raid went down only days later.
Hodges recalled the raid in an interview earlier this summer with
“I was about five minutes away from the church when I got a call that the cops were there. They were still clearing people out of the building when I arrived. I started yelling at them that they’re violating the city’s order, and my religious freedom, and that I’m the one responsible for all of this,” Hodges said. “Basically, I was telling them to just arrest me.”
The resolution, approved by the city council in 2019, effectively decriminalized mushrooms, which made Oakland the second city (following Denver) to take such a leap.
“This wasn’t about whether we were doing something wrong,” Hodges said in