Aaron Rodgers advocates for psychedelics, ayahuasca at conference in Denver

Months after Colorado’s voters decided to join Oregon in decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, Denver hosted a conference this week put on by a psychedelic advocacy group bringing together an unlikely cohort of speakers — including NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers, who will soon make his debut with the New York Jets after a storied career with the Green Bay Packers and has been open about his use of ayahuasca in the past, spoke at the conference Wednesday. He cited using ayahuasca for some of the success he has had in recent seasons.

“It’s going to be hard to cancel me because the previous year [in 2019] — 26 touchdowns, four interceptions, we had a good season,” Rodgers, who was then playing for the Packers, told CNN. “Ayahuasca — 48 touchdowns, five interceptions, MVP. What are you gonna say?”

“The response from other people in the sports industry has been pretty incredible,” Rodgers added. “To see basketball players and baseball players and surfers, entertainers and my own teammates and colleagues across the league reach out and either share their story about their own medicine journey or ask to be a part of an upcoming one was pretty special.”

The conference, hosted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, was 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.

Psychedelics are illegal at the federal level, though acceptance and interest in studying their potential benefits has grown. For example, some researchers believe psilocybin, the compound in psychedelic mushrooms, changes the way the brain organizes itself and can help users overcome things like depression and alcoholism.

The drugs themselves — and the interest in them — are not new, but public interest also appears to be growing. Just six years ago in Oakland, California, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies held a conference with roughly 3,000 attendees and a smattering of lesser-known speakers and die-hard proponents.

Other famous speakers included former NHL player Daniel Carcillo, who owns a company specializing in psychedelic therapies; Olympic silver-medal figure skater Sasha Cohen; comedians Reggie Watts and Eric Andre, top-10 podcaster Andrew Huberman; and Carl Hart, the chair of Columbia University’s psychology department.

The American Psychiatric Association has not endorsed the use of psychedelics in treatment, noting the Food and Drug Administration has yet to offer a final determination. The FDA did designate psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” in 2018, a label that’s designed to speed the development and review of drugs to treat a serious condition. MDMA, often called ecstasy, also has that designation for PTSD treatment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

National Football League

National Football League

New York Jets

New York Jets

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers


National Football League

Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more