Nevada psychedelics activists say they’ve had a “productive meeting” with the Republican governor’s office about the need to expeditiously form a task force under a law enacted earlier this year in order to inform future reform—including the possible legalization of plant-based medicines.
About six months after Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) signed legislation into law establishing a Psychedelic Medicines Working Group, members have not yet been formally appointed and no meetings have been scheduled, despite a mandate for the body to issue a report with policy recommendations by the end of 2024.
To that end, Nevada Coalition for Psychedelic Medicines (NCPM) co-founders Jon Dalton and Kate Cotter met with staff from Lombardo’s office last month and discussed the timeliness of filling the vacancies and beginning the work so lawmakers are adequately informed on the issue and positioned to consider additional reform in the 2025 legislative session.
“Our dialogue centered on the imperative for legalized access to these substances, and the collaborative efforts required with law enforcement to enhance awareness of both the benefits and risks associated with them,” Cotter told Marijuana Moment. “We’re hopeful that the governor will be appointing the working group members within the next month.”
The law Lombardo signed in June called for the creation of a 15-member work group 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 will 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.”
The law states that the task force must carry out it work during the 2023-2024 interim period before submitting a report with findings and recommendations to the legislature by December 31, 2024.
The governor’s office will need to fill seven of the 15 vacancies, and those appointed members must include a military veteran with experience using psychedelics for PTSD, a psychiatrist with substance misuse treatment experience, a person with experiencing treating PTSD in a clinical setting, a scientist with a background in federally authorized psychedelics research, a tribal representative, an advocate for psychedelics medicine and a law enforcement official.
Additional members of the working group must include designees of the state attorney general, director of HHS, director of veterans services and president of the Nevada Board of Pharmacology. Another four members will be appointed by majority and minority leaders of each legislative chamber.
“In the past year, many legislative efforts concluded with the establishment of working groups tasked with assessing the optimal means of harnessing the remarkable potential of substances such as psilocybin and MDMA,” Cotter of NCPM said. “Once formed, we anticipate this working group will carefully examine the approaches taken by Oregon and Colorado, in addition to highlighting the advancements made by organizations like MAPS, to produce a favorable report.”
“This report will further underscore the imperative to modernize our outdated laws regarding drug policy,” Cotter said.
Nevada is one of several states where lawmakers have worked to establish investigatory panels and pilot programs focused on psychedelics amid growing public interest in expanding therapeutic access and ending criminalization for substances like psilocybin, ibogaine and MDMA.
For example, a study group in Indiana’s legislature is encouraging lawmakers to authorize a psilocybin pilot program to research psychedelic-assisted therapy for mental health in the 2024 session.
The governor of Massachusetts filed a bill in November to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA for military veterans. This comes as advocates await state verification of signatures they’ve submitted for a 2024 psychedelics legalization ballot initiative.
A New York lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would create a pilot program to provide psilocybin therapy to 10,000 people, focusing on military veterans and first responders, while the legislature also considers broader psychedelics reform.
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Back in Nevada, while the governor’s office must still make appointments for the psychedelics work group, Lombardo did recently announce that he’s selected a new top regulator for the state’s marijuana industry.
Nevada officials have also adopted a proposal to amend hiring standards for police officers to allow job candidates who were previously disqualified for certain marijuana-related offenses to now be eligible for law enforcement positions.
On Monday, a new law took effect that makes several adjustments to marijuana rules, including doubling the state’s limit on personal possession and expanding cannabis business license eligibility for people with prior felony convictions.
In May, the state Senate approved a resolution urging Congress to federally legalize marijuana, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
Regulators this summer also began approving the state’s first conditional licenses for marijuana consumption lounges.