Oakland’s psychedelic mushroom church, zide door, applies for permit to keep operating

Oaklandside reports

Zide Door dropped a lawsuit against the city alleging religious discrimination, but the church’s founder says he’s prepared to go back to court if the permit is not approved.

Oakland’s psychedelic mushroom church, which promotes the religious use of cannabis and psilocybin as a way to connect with God, may be on the cusp of resolving a three-year legal saga with the city.

In 2020, the Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants building on 10th Avenue and E 12th Street was raided after police received reports that it was operating as an unpermitted cannabis dispensary. The church’s founder, Dave Hodges, responded in August 2022 to what he said was a “completely illegal” search warrant by filing a lawsuit against the city of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department alleging civil rights and religious freedom violations. Zide Door is part of the Church of Ambrosia, which describes itself as a non-denominational and interfaith church promoting psilocybin and cannabis as sacraments.

Last month, Hodges voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after being told by the city that he could apply for a conditional use permit through the Bureau of Planning. While he views the city’s offer as a way to “kick him out of court,” Hodges told The Oaklandside that if it allows Zide Door to keep operating as is, he’ll take no further action.

We were always, from the day we opened, planning to go to federal court to protect our religious right,” Hodges said. “If and when they don’t issue it to us we will have reason to go right back to court.”

According to Hodges’ lawyer, Editte Lerman, the city said Zide Door needed a permit based on where it is zoned. While Hodges and Lerman didn’t think this type of permit was required for a private, members-only church, they’re inclined to work with the city.

“The city, in litigation, seemed to indicate that they would potentially give out a conditional use permit,” Lerman said. “Dave wants to take them for their word and give us an opportunity to work together.”

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