Jun 22, 2023 - News

From NFL quarterbacks to musicians, celebrities are pushing psychedelics

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers speaks during the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference at the Bellco Theatre on Wednesday, June 21, in Denver. Photo: Courtesy of Psychedelic Science 2023

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't sure when he would speak publicly about using ayahuasca, a psychedelic brewed drink.

Driving the news: Rodgers was perhaps the most high profile guest at the Psychedelics Science 2023 conference in Denver, providing a keynote address Wednesday night at the Bellco Theater.

Details: Rodgers said he used ayahuasca for the first time in Peru in 2020, before earning back-to-back MVP honors with the Green Bay Packers.

  • Yet, he felt concerned about how people would perceive him using a federally illegal substance. Once he did share his experience, he said the response from other people in the sports industry was "incredible."

What they're saying: "It's radically life-changing," Rodgers said on Wednesday about taking psychedelics with teammates.

Why it matters: The public support from celebrities like Rodgers signals a changing attitude toward the substances, whose health benefits are still being studied, but potential for medicinal use are slowly becoming more accepted.

Zoom in: Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge discussed her support for plant-based medicine before her show at Bluebird Theater in Denver on Wednesday. She spoke at the conference earlier in the day.

  • Her support stems from personal tragedy: Her son, Beckett Cypheridge, died from an opioid overdose in Denver in 2020.
  • His passing galvanized her, leading her to create a foundation to support research for addiction treatment by providing grants, including funding psilocybin studies.

By the numbers: Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, has pledged to give $100 million toward research.

  • He discussed his donation during a keynote conversation at the conference. He told MarketWatch he's donating the money, "to get this right, and we really need to have these foundations and nonprofits funded properly."
  • Mycoskie said he's used ayahuasca, which he said made him feel more connected to his faith.

Between the lines: Alex Kopacz, an Olympic gold-medal winning bobsledder from Canada, tells us he wants to leverage his celebrity to promote its medicinal use.

Yes, but: Kopacz said any attempts to legalize something like psilocybin needs to be done with regulations in place, similar to Colorado's decriminalized system.

  • "There is a power there that needs to be respected," Kopacz, who was scheduled to present at the conference on Thursday, tells us.
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