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Decriminalizing magic mushrooms on the minds of Nevada legislators

CARSON CITY — Small amounts of fungi that produces so-called magic mushrooms may soon be decriminalized under a bill heard by lawmakers Thursday.

An amended version of Senate Bill 242, presented by Sen. Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, would allow individuals older than 21 to possess, use and consume 30 grams of the dried fungi that produces psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.

“Twenty-eight grams of fentanyl is not the equivalent of 28 grams of mushrooms and they are treated, in our law, the same,” Nguyen said.

The bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create a Psychedelic Medicines Working Group that would conduct research on therapeutic substances, including psilocybin. The working group would be required to provide a report to the 2025 Legislature by Dec. 31, 2024.

Prior to the proposed amendment, the bill would have allowed research facilities to apply to study the use of MDMA and mushrooms for the treatment of mental health. Individuals over the age of 18 who consume those substances as part of one of those approved studies won’t be in violation of the law.

Researchers speaking in support of the bill said use of psilocybin has been shown to help with mental health issues, including depression.

“This is research in our lab now that we’re looking at, not only with psilocybin and many other psychedelics, where we can show very readily in areas of the brain that are really important to be connected or reconnected in disorders of mental health,” said Dr. Dustin Hines. “These compounds are highly effective..”

Several individuals and groups spoke in support of the bill, including the Nevada Coalition for Psychedelic Medicines and the Clark County public defender’s office, who said the bill is “a common sense” way to help address the state’s mental health crisis.

But multiple groups opposed the bill, including the Metropolitan Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the city of Henderson and Nevada Psychiatric Association.

Beth Schmidt with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reminded attendees that psilocybin is still considered a Schedule I drug on the federal level, and warned against decriminalization.

“Decriminalization of psilocybin is a threat to public safety,” she said. “Knowing that research is underway elsewhere, the question that we ask is: Is Nevada adequately informed and prepared to be the next step to study psilocybin?”

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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