Nevada lawmakers have approved a revised bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
While the legislation before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee as introduced would have legalized psilocybin and promoted research into the psychedelic, as well as encouraged studies of MDMA, the panel adopted an amendment that scales it back significantly.
As approved in a voice vote on Thursday, Sen. Rochelle Nguyen’s (D) measure 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 significantly amended during a hearing in the same panel last month, stating that she would be amenable to changes and primarily wanted to initiate a conversation in the legislature about psychedelics reform.
“It was amazing how many people this bill has touched—people that have not participated in the political process, people whose lives they credit from these medicines and these therapies,” Nguyen said ahead of the vote on Thursday. “I look forward to what comes out of this bill and what comes out of the research and the direction that we can use with this working group during the interim.”
As revised, 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.
“The feedback we received from legislators, law enforcement, and other stakeholders helped shape the new language in the bill,” Scot Rutledge, partner at Argentum Partners, which helped to craft the adopted amendment, told Marijuana Moment. “The proponents are confident that these changes will better inform the work of the Psychedelic Medicines Working Group to come back in 2025 with an actionable plan for establishing a psychedelic assisted therapy program in Nevada.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate.
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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.
Washington State lawmakers in both chambers have passed legislation to create a pilot program to research the medical efficacy of psilocybin. Legislators still need to reconcile differences between their respective versions before it’s sent to the governor.
The Hawaii Senate approved a bill on Tuesday to create an advisory council to look into possible regulations to provide access to federal “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA.
Minnesota lawmakers recently attached the provisions of a bill to create a psychedelics task force that would prepare the state for possible legalization to large-scale omnibus health legislation that could reach the House floor soon.
A Republican Massachusetts lawmaker has filed three new psychedelics reform bills, including proposals to legalize substances like psilocybin and reschedule MDMA pending federal approval while setting a price cap on therapeutic access.
Those are just a few examples of the types of reforms that legislators across the country are considering this session.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published last month found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.