Thousands Gather at Psychedelics Conference in Denver, Including NFL Star Aaron Rodgers
A diverse assembly of attendees, ranging from podcasters and vendors to startups and curious individuals, flocked to a psychedelics conference in Denver this week. The event, organized by a psychedelic advocacy group, occurred in the wake of Colorado’s recent decision to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, following in the footsteps of Oregon. While this marks a step toward increased societal acceptance of these substances, advocates emphasize the need for further research into their potential benefits for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, as well as the associated risks of inducing hallucinations.
One of the notable speakers at the conference was Aaron Rodgers, the accomplished NFL quarterback soon to join the New York Jets after a successful tenure with the Green Bay Packers. In a conversation with podcaster Aubrey Marcus, Rodgers shared his transformative experience with ayahuasca, describing it as a catalyst for profound personal growth. He also revealed that many other professional athletes had approached him regarding their own interest in these substances.
The conference was hosted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the largest advocacy group of its kind in the United States. Researchers and historians studying the psychedelic movement note that MAPS has actively pursued a broad political strategy, aiming to garner support from diverse perspectives. However, some caution against the risk of exaggerating the potential benefits without adequate scientific evidence, emphasizing the importance of balanced and accurate research.
Although psychedelics remain federally illegal, there has been a noticeable increase in acceptance and enthusiasm surrounding their exploration for therapeutic purposes. Researchers believe that compounds like psilocybin found in psychedelic mushrooms can alter brain functioning and contribute to the treatment of conditions such as depression and addiction.
While psychedelic substances and the interest in them are not novel phenomena, having gained popularity during the counterculture movement of the mid-20th century with figures like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey, their prohibition under the Nixon administration drove them underground.
Author Michael Pollan, who will also be speaking at the conference, highlights a significant difference in contemporary times: the widespread enthusiasm for the potential of psychedelics extends beyond countercultural boundaries, appealing to a more diverse cross-section of the population.