Months after Colorado’s voters decided to join Oregon in decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms,
Denver will host a conference this week put on by a psychedelic advocacy group bringing together an unlikely cohort of speakers — including an NFL star, a former Republican governor and a rapper.
The conference and the thousands expected to attend it is an indication of the creep, or perhaps leap,
of cultural acceptance for psychedelic substances that proponents say may offer benefits for things like post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.
Still, medical experts caution that more research is needed on the drugs’ efficacy and the extent of the risks of psychedelics, which can cause hallucinations.
NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’ll soon debut with the New York Jets after years with the Green Bay Packers, has been open about his use of ayahuasca in the past and is slated to speak Wednesday.
Rapper Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith who has publicly shared the “ego dissolution” he felt when using psychedelics, will be speaking in Denver, too,
as will former Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is an advocate for researching psychedelics’ potential benefits for veterans experiencing PTSD.
The hosting organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, is the largest U.S. advocacy group.
It has strategized to reach the full political spectrum, said Nicolas Langlitz, a historian of science who’s researched the boom and bust of psychedelic movements.
“Overall, this strategy has been tremendously successful,” he said. “At the time when any topic gets politically polarized, ironically these super polarizing substances now get bipartisan support.”
Still, Langlitz said, this conference is “purely designed to promote the hype,” which can exaggerate the potential benefits but can also drive further funding.
“Any kind of overselling is not good for science because science should be accurate rather than pushing things,” he said.
“It’s a tradeoff. (The conference) generates interest, it generates ultimately more research, even though the research might be skewed toward positive results.”