The Nevada Senate has approved a bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes, sending it to the Assembly for consideration.
The legislation as introduced would have legalized psilocybin and promoted research into the psychedelic, as well as encouraged studies of MDMA, but it was significantly scaled back in committee before passing on the floor in a 16-4 vote on Monday.
Sen. Rochelle Nguyen’s (D) measure 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.
“This working group will put us in a better position to have information and knowledge gathered to make sure that we are doing what’s best for Nevadans,” Nguyen said on the floor on Monday.
“As many people have heard—they’ve heard from the numerous people that this type of treatment, they have found success in it: our veterans, our first responders, people where traditional medicines have not worked,” she said.
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.
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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.
This 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.
Lawmakers also took up a proposal to increase the state’s cannabis possession limit and remove barriers to employment in the marijuana industry.
Nevada law enforcement regulators also recently proposed to revise the state’s employment policy so that prior marijuana possession convictions for amounts that are now legal would no longer be a disqualifying factor for police recruits.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) separately 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.
NSAC, which regulates unarmed combat sports within the state, voted unanimously to stop penalizing professional fighters for testing positive for marijuana in 2021, but the policy hasn’t been integrated into the code. The new amendment would change that.
Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.