A Nevada Assembly committee has approved a Senate-passed bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
The Assembly Health and Human Services Committee advanced the legislation from Sen. Rochelle Nguyen (D) in a voice vote on Friday, less than a week after it cleared the full Senate. It now heads to the floor, where members may take it up as early as this weekend before it’s potentially sent to the governor’s desk.
Nguyen told committee members that she first learned about the benefits of psychedelics from constituents who raised the issue with her.
“The people that come to you are not people that look like they’re out of a Woodstock video…but they are first responders,” she said. “They are firefighters, they are police officers, they are veterans and they are people that don’t traditionally fit the bill of someone that you would think of when we talk about mushrooms or psychedelics.”
Representatives of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association testified in support of the legislation before the Assembly panel.
“This is something that we need to support. It is something that is coming, and we should be on the forefront of it—not in the middle of the pack or behind,” the sponsor said, referring to similar reforms advancing in other states. “And without this bill passing, I worry that we are behind.”
As introduced, the measure would have legalized psilocybin and promoted research into the psychedelic, as well as encouraged studies of MDMA—but it was significantly scaled back by a Senate committee.
The bill as revised now focuses on forming a Psychedelic Medicines Working Group to examine the use of entheogens “in medicinal, therapeutic, and improved wellness.”
The sponsor had acknowledged that the legislation would likely be amended during an initial committee hearing in March, stating that she would be amenable to changes and primarily wanted to initiate a conversation in the legislature about psychedelics reform.
Under the bill as currently drafted, a 15-member working group would be established under the state Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), tasked with studying the science of psychedelics “including but not limited to” psilocybin and psilocin in overall wellness and the treatment of mental health conditions such as PTSD, substance use disorder and major depressive disorder, and during end of life care.
The group would further need to look at federal, state and local laws governing the therapeutic use of psychedelics and then develop an “actionable plan on how to enable access to therapeutic entheogens and compounds…that are safe, accessible, and affordable.”
They would be required to submit a report to the legislature with their findings by December 31, 2024.
Members of the working group would include the state attorney general, director of HHS, director of veterans services and president of the Nevada Board of Pharmacology, or their respective designees. Another four members would be appointed by majority and minority leaders of each legislative chamber. Seven more members who meet certain criteria would be appointed by the governor.
The governor would need to select a military veteran with personal experience with psychedelics to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist with a background in substance misuse treatment, a federally registered psychedelics researcher and a representative of a Nevada tribal government, among others.
“We appreciate the committee’s support this afternoon and look forward to a vote in the affirmative by the full Assembly over the weekend,” Scot Rutledge, partner at Argentum Partners, told Marijuana Moment. “Given the current dynamics of this session, we are pleased to see continued bi-partisan support for this critically important working group.”
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Nevada is joining a rapidly growing list of states where legislators are pursuing psychedelics reform this session as interest in the therapeutic potential into entheogenic substances expands.
For example, the governor of Minnesota recently signed a large-scale bill that include provisions to create a psychedelics task force meant to prepare the state for possible legalization.
A California bill to legalize the possession of certain psychedelics and facilitated use of the substances passed the Senate last week.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a bill last week to create a regulatory framework for legal psychedelics under a voter-approved initiative.
Last month, a North Carolina House committee approved a bill to create a $5 million grant program to support research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and MDMA and to create a Breakthrough Therapies Research Advisory Board to oversee the effort.
A Washington State bill to promote research into psilocybin and create a pilot program to provide therapeutic access to the psychedelic for mental health treatment was signed by the governor.
Back in Nevada, the legislature also approved a resolution urging Congress to federally legalize marijuana.