Aaron Rodgers To Speak at Denver Psychedelics Conference

NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will share his experience with psychedelics at the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver in June.
Photo by Mitchell Leff / Getty

NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be a featured speaker at a psychedelics conference to be held in Denver this summer, less than a year after Colorado voters decriminalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms. Touted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as the “largest psychedelic gathering in history,” the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference will take place in June at the Colorado Convention Center.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers star quarterback revealed that he had traveled to South America to try the psychedelic ayahuasca on more than one occasion. Rodgers said that the experience changed his mindset and had a positive effect on his mental health, crediting the drug with helping him subsequently be selected as the NFL’s most valuable player two seasons in a row. In December, he added that using ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms has helped him cope with a strong fear of death he has had since he was a teenager.

Rodgers has been very open about his use of psychedelics and has said he hopes that sharing his experience can help dispel the stigma attached to the powerful compounds. And in June, he will be one of more than 300 speakers to address the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver. Presented by MAPS, the gathering has been hailed by the psychedelics research and advocacy nonprofit organization as the “definitive event of the psychedelic renaissance.”

“Aaron Rodgers will be interviewed by Aubrey Marcus at Psychedelic Science 2023 about his experiences with Ayahuasca, which he’s previously spoken about on Aubrey’s podcast,” said MAPS founder and executive director Rick Doblin. “We’re delighted Aaron is open to sharing his views at what will become the world’s largest psychedelic conference ever.” 

Psychedelic drugs including LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca have received renewed interest from researchers for their potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance misuse disorders. In November, Colorado voters took new steps in psychedelic policy reform with the passage of Proposition 122, a ballot measure to legalize the possession and therapeutic use of certain natural psychedelic drugs including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline, for people age 21 and older. The measure also authorizes the establishment of “healing centers” where adults can obtain access to natural psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. The measure, which passed with more than 53% of the vote, is now in the process of being implemented by state officials.

Aaron Rodgers And Psychedelics

Last weekend during an appearance on the The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said that he would make a decision about retiring from professional football after he takes a four-day “darkness retreat” later this month. The 18-year NFL veteran said that the retreat will include “‘sensory deprivation isolation’ that will simulate the drug DMT with the potential for hallucinations,” according to a report from CBS Sports. 

“It’s an opportunity to do a little self-reflection in some isolation and after that, I feel like I’ll be a lot closer to that final, final decision,” Rodgers said on Tuesday. “I’ve had a number of friends who’ve done it and they had profound experiences.” 

In August, Rodgers revealed that he had traveled to South America to take ayahuasca before being selected as the league’s most valuable player in back-to-back seasons, saying the traditional psychedelic brew changed his thinking and significantly improved his mental health. Rodgers made the revelations about ayahuasca experiences during an appearance on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, saying that the psychedelic drug helped him find self-love and mental wellness.

The Super Bowl champion quarterback said he made the trip to South America before winning the MVP award for the third and fourth time. Following the ayahuasca experience, he said, he “knew that [he] was never going to be the same.”

“For me, I didn’t do that and think ‘oh, I’m never playing football again,’” Rodgers said, as quoted by USA Today. “No, it gave me a deep and meaningful appreciation for life. My intention the first night going in was ‘I want to feel what pure love feels like.’ That was my intention. And I did. I really did. I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body imparting a blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life from what seemed to be my ancestors.”

The Psychedelic Science 2023 conference takes place at the Colorado Convention Center from June 19 through June 23. Other featured speakers include Doblin, groundbreaking researcher Robin Carhart-Harris, wellness guru Deepak Chopra, and Amanda Feilding, the executive director at the U.K.-based psychedelics advocacy organization the Beckley Foundation.

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