Nevada senators held a hearing on a bill to legalize the possession of psilocybin on Thursday, discussing a proposed amendment to remove therapeutic use provisions and taking extensive testimony from advocates and experts—including from an Assembly lawmaker who shared his own experience with ketamine treatment.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee took up the legislation from Sen. Rochelle Nguyen (D), which under the amendment would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to six ounces of the psychedelic for adults 21 and older.
“Veterans, law enforcement, first responders and all Nevadans deserve the right to explore treatment options in the safety of their own home,” Nguyen said at the hearing. “We want to reduce the prosecution of people who wish to heal themselves and protect those who protect us. It’s the least that we can do.”
As introduced, the measure would have also streamlined the process of researching psilocybin and MDMA, providing protections for scientists and adults who participate in the studies. But the proposed amendment would eliminate that language.
Instead, the revision would contain less prescriptive language, saying simply that the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would need to establish a Psychedelic Medicines Working Group to “study psychedelic medicines and make recommendations to the legislature.”
The legal possession limit was also increased from four to six ounces under the amendment.
Under the bill, the working group would be responsible for reviewing the therapeutic potential of psychedelics including psilocybin for certain mental health conditions and existing laws and regulations governing entheogenic substances at the federal, state and local levels.
Members would further need to develop “a strategic, measurable, and actionable plan on how to enable access to therapeutic entheogens and compounds including, but not limited to psilocybin and psilocin products that are safe, accessible, and affordable.”
A report with findings and recommendations would be due to the legislature by December 31, 2024.
Assemblymember Max Carter (D) testified at Thursday’s hearing and discussed his personal experience using ketamine for chronic depression. He said that while the substance is effective, it’s a short-term therapy, especially compared to psilocybin.
“The lingering effects of psilocybin are measured in months and years, and that’s why we need to take and look at this and allow it to be explored in our state,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got veterans, active duty first responders and common people just like you and I that are seeking out and benefiting from psilocybin therapy. Unfortunately, it’s happening in the shadows. This is the first step to bringing this promising therapy into the light where it belongs.”
The chair of the committee, Sen. Fabian Doñate (D), said that while he wasn’t alive in the 1980s, “the ramifications of the war on drugs we still see to this very day.”
“I think that’s something that all of us can see in general throughout this country,” the senator, who is cosponsoring the legislation, said. “The fact of the matter is what we have seen, particularly with this issue, is we have forbidden our researchers from actually understanding what this process could entail—and that has persisted for generations.”
The whereas section of the bill states that Nevada “has a high prevalence of adults with behavioral health conditions,” and studies show that psilocybin have “efficacy and safety in the treatment of a variety of behavioral health conditions.”
“Numerous state and local lawmaking bodies throughout the United States have already enacted or are currently considering legislation decriminalizing certain conduct by certain persons relating to psilocybin and psilocin,” it says. (Full Story)