This week, a psychedelics conference in Denver attracted a diverse gathering of thousands, including podcasters, vendors, startups, and seekers. Javier Hasse of Benzinga was one of the attendees who immersed themselves in a captivating atmosphere, exploring a dimly lit hall adorned with kaleidoscope art. They listened to engaging talks by various speakers, from a former Republican governor to NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
While the Benzinga Psychedelics Conference is the most known and respected psychedelics show in the industry, the MAPS show is a very strong conference and growing rapidly each year.
Months after Colorado’s voters followed Oregon’s lead in decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, a psychedelic advocacy group organized a conference. The event served as a testament to the increasing cultural acceptance of these substances. Many supporters believe these substances to benefit conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism potentially.
However, medical experts emphasize the necessity for further research into the drugs’ effectiveness and a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with psychedelics, such as hallucinations.
Aaron Rodgers’ Experience.
Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback who will soon debut with the New York Jets after spending years with the Green Bay Packers, had an interesting conversation with Aubrey Marcus. He shared his profound experience of taking ayahuasca with his teammates. Rodger described it as a “radically life-changing” encounter. He mentioned that numerous professional athletes had contacted him regarding similar experiences. The NFL does not currently test for psychdelics in their CBA.
Aaron Rodgers, highlighting the transformative impact of his ayahuasca journeys, emphasizes the interconnectedness within the realms of consciousness. He explains that one of the profound effects of this experience is its ability to unite people.
According to Rodgers, individuals can share these aspects with their fellow participants by engaging in challenging initiatory practices that delve into one’s vulnerabilities. This ultimately fosters a unique bond among participants. He affirmed that this bond transcends ordinary friendships, as it stems from shared vulnerability and the process of healing.
In describing the communal nature of plant medicine ceremonies, Rodgers shared a powerful analogy. He likened the participants to superheroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy, who stand by each other’s side. This analogy signifies that wherever they journey, they are never alone.
According to Rodgers, this collective experience surpasses mere sympathy from a distance. He believes true compassion involves immersing oneself in the depths of vulnerability, shedding tears, purging emotions, and facing battles together. In this sacred alliance, participants feel deeply understood and supported by one another.
Rodgers asserts that medicines can unlock a profound sense of purpose, catalyzing individuals toward their grand aspirations. He emphasizes that high performance stems from a burning desire to succeed.
He explained that understanding the underlying reason behind one’s ambitions is crucial, as it fuels an intense yearning for success. Rodgers credits his ayahuasca experiences for clarifying his purpose and instilling a “deeper why” that continuously motivates him to strive for excellence.
Rodgers also expressed his insights into the cultural changes he has witnessed since he began discussing psychedelics in 2011. He conveyed that there’s a noticeable shift in the culture. As they gain more momentum, they share the authentic accounts of their experiences without embellishment because they are genuinely occurring. That’s the remarkable aspect of this—these stories are genuine, originating from a place of truth. Sharing the truth, it creates a profound impact.
One of the intriguing insights he shared regarding the potential of psychedelics to boost performance pertains to team building. He mentioned that they connected with Maestro Lana Chudendama, one of my earliest Ayahuasca teachers, to tap into the tradition… Ayahuasca, 48 touchdowns. He implied that the experience fosters a stronger bond among individuals and brings out their finest qualities, enhancing their performance.
Rodgers strongly believes that the transformative visions provided by such experiences act as fuel for achieving extraordinary levels of capability. He stated that without having that future vision—your future, your role in shaping the collective future we all share—you won’t possess the necessary drive to reach your true potential.
Public Interest in Psychedelics
Despite being federally illegal, there has been an increasing acceptance and interest in exploring the potential benefits of psychedelics. One notable example is the compound psilocybin found in psychedelic mushrooms. Researchers believe psilocybin can reorganize the brain and assist individuals in overcoming conditions such as depression and alcoholism.
Until now, conservative bastions like Utah and Missouri have either initiated or are contemplating conducting studies on psychedelic substances, partially influenced by veterans’ accounts.
On Wednesday, former Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas expressed his efforts to pass a bill in the state legislature in 2021, allocating funds for a study on psilocybin specifically for veterans while emphasizing his lack of support for recreational use.
Surprisingly, in Congress, proposals focused on veterans brought together progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and far-right Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida, forging an unexpected alliance.
There is also a noticeable increase in public interest. Just six years ago in Oakland, California, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies organized a conference with around 3,000 participants, featuring a mix of lesser-known speakers and devoted advocates.
While the American Psychiatric Association has not endorsed the use of psychedelics for treatment, they acknowledge that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to reach a final determination. However, in 2018, the FDA designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy,” a classification intended to expedite developing and reviewing drugs for treating serious conditions. Similarly, MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, also holds this designation for treating PTSD.
The growing interest in psychedelics is evident in public perception and political discussions. The recent psychedelics conference in Denver drew a diverse crowd, reflecting the expanding curiosity surrounding these substances. While some supporters believe in their potential benefits for conditions like PTSD and alcoholism, medical experts caution and advocate for further research and understanding of associated risks.
Meanwhile, conservative strongholds such as Utah and Missouri are considering studies influenced by veterans’ stories while unexpected alliances form in Congress. The recognition of psychedelics as breakthrough therapies by the FDA highlights the ongoing exploration of their therapeutic potential.
Overall, the cultural and scientific landscape surrounding psychedelics is evolving, prompting broader conversations and potential avenues for their application.