What is a microdosing mushroom “church”? Why was it raided by police?
The Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants was initially opened as a safe haven for potheads, and was referred to as a “cannabis church.” But in July 2019, Zide Door added mushrooms to its offerings, allowing people to buy them and enjoy them within their doors.
Oakland police finally raided the church on August 13th, claiming the operation was illegal. One of the founders, Dave Hodges, claims the raid was “an intimidation technique” and they weren’t doing anything wrong. So, what’s the story behind the Zide Door Church, and was their operation actually “illegal”?
Not a dispensary, but a church
When describing the Zide Door Church, Hodges claims the group isn’t a “dispensary” for mushrooms, but in fact a “church.” Similar to the underground weed clubs of the 90s and 00s, the Zide Door church offered access to weed, and eventually microdosing mushrooms, for those who needed a reliable source for religious uses.
The reason Zide Door is making the distinction of being a church is because of a 2006 Supreme Court ruling stating that churches can use illegal drugs in its worship services. Of course, selling these drugs is still illegal, but the church can import them and use them during services.
So, Zide Door has been able to get away with their drug use so far because of this ruling. Even though mushrooms are technically illegal in California, the local council approved a resolution stating arrests for using psychedelic drugs is the “lowest priority” for law enforcement.
Ignoring orders to shut down
But said resolution doesn’t apply to the sale of psychedelic drugs. So while cops would turn a blind eye to Zide Door members using cannabis and mushrooms, they incorrectly assumed the church was selling the drugs to its attendees.
August 13th wasn’t the first visit Oakland police paid to the Zide Door church. On April 21st, police paid a visit to the Zide Door Church with a plain clothes officers undercover. One of the officers spelt it out clear for Hodges according to documents: shut down your business or we’ll shut it down for you.
When the Zide Door Church was raided in August, the main cause was running an “illegal marijuana dispensary” and had no mention of the microdosing mushrooms. However, police commented on the mushrooms, saying that while the mushrooms are not their priority, they still acknowledge Zide Door was breaking the law by selling the mushrooms.
Was the operation illegal?
What everything comes down to is if the Zide Door Church is actually a church or a mushroom club. Inside the Zide Door Church, there were pews and a pulpit. Hodges would hold Sunday services dressed in a golden stole, robes, and give sermons.
During these sermons, church attendees could buy tokens with cash, and then trade these tokens in for cannabis and edibles. If these people would join the church, they had to sign a waiver acknowledging any cash they give the church is solely to help the church function and buy resources.
They also could only join if they confirmed they weren’t law enforcement. But that didn’t stop plenty of undercover cops from joining the church to investigate their actions.
In the eyes of police, Hodges was running an illegal drug operation, and while he won’t be arrested, the Zide Door Church will be no more. But in the eyes of Hodges, he’s just a guy invested in the oldest religion of all time: using mushrooms to help enhance his religious experience.