Aaron Rodgers is set to speak at a psychedelics conference

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry is interviewed at the White House in Washington. 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 Rodgers, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and rapper Jaden Smith, the son of actor Will Smith. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - Jaden Smith arrives at Louis Vuitton's "200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries: The Exhibition," Thursday, July 28, 2022, at Louis Vuitton in Beverly Hills, Calif. 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 Rodgers, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and rapper Jaden Smith, the son of actor Will Smith. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - New York Jets' quarterback Aaron Rodgers smiles during an NFL football news conference at the Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Wednesday, April 26, 2023. 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 Rodgers, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and rapper Jaden Smith, the son of actor Will Smith. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

DENVER — Months after Colorado’s voters decided to join Oregon in decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, Denver is hosting 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 attending 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.

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NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’ll soon debut with the New York Jets after years with the Green Bay Packers, will speak with a podcaster Wednesday evening about his ayahuasca experience and how he believes it helped his game. Rapper and actor Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith who has publicly shared the “ego dissolution” he felt when using psychedelics, will speak, too. Former Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, an advocate for researching psychedelics’ potential benefits for veterans experiencing PTSD, was part of the conference’s opening.

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.

“At the time when any topic gets politically polarized, ironically, these super-polarizing substances now get bipartisan support,” Langlitz said. Still, he added, the conference is “purely designed to promote the hype.”

“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.”

Psychedelics are illegal at the federal level, though acceptance and interest in studying their potential benefits has grown.

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