Planning the Largest Psychedelic Conference in History: Interview with Ben Greenzweig, Co-Producer of PS23
Imagine an event that serves an industry where the products are still illegal at the federal level. Now imagine that show’s attendance growing four times.
When the last Psychedelic Science conference was held in Oakland, Calif., in 2017, more than 3,000 attendees from the international scientific community came together to explore new research into the benefits and risks of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine, ibogaine, medical marijuana and more.
Since then, states across the U.S. have passed legislation that ranges from decriminalizing the possession of psychedelic substances to regulated access at certified clinics for anyone over the age of 21.
PS2023, a co-production by Momentum Events with the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), brought together more than 12,000 researchers, experts, cultural icons, investors and thinkers in the evolving world of psychedelics.
Ben Greenzweig, CEO of Momentum Events, an event company he founded in 2012 after working on conferences and trade shows at the Institute for International Research and The Economist, said, “PS2023 far exceeded our expectations. When we first started planning this conference in 2021, we hoped for 8,000 attendees, yet more than 12,000 people came together to celebrate the path we have all been on for more than 35 years.”
He added, “PS2023 is a testament to the work MAPS has done to help mainstream psychedelic medicine.”
Education. Over the course of five days from June 19-23, attendees participated in more than 400 panels, training seminars and cultural events.
Expo. For the first time, the event featured a trade show floor with 200 exhibitors showcasing everything from clinical companies and contract research organizations to wellness retreats and practitioner training services.
Keynotes. The keynote stage featured speakers like football star Aaron Rodgers, rapper/artist Jaden Smith, as well as politicians like Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) and former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX). During the event, Toms Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie announced a $100 million commitment to psychedelic research and investment.
Fun. Networking events included a Welcome Party & Psychedelic Drag Bingo; Psychedelic Leaders Gathering: Authentic Relating, Cacao Ceremony, Talent Show & Dance Party; Opening Psychedelic Therapy Mixer; Taco, Yoga and Beer; and Plants, Yoga and Wine — to name a few.
Fest. Deep Space, sponsored by Dr. Bronner's, featured a festival-like atmosphere with tea ceremonies, yoga and movement, music and dancing, connection exercises, storytelling and more.
Rick Doblin, founder and president of MAPS, a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1986, said, “PS2023 has proven to be a breakthrough moment for the national conversation around psychedelics. While the days of this effort have been long, the years have flown by, and I’m more enthusiastic and excited than I have ever been about the future of psychedelic medicines.”
He continued, “Momentum has been a vital partner in making PS2023 the massive success it has been. We couldn’t have asked for a better, more intentional and committed partner in this effort.”
As the organizing partner, Momentum was responsible for the event production, marketing, registration, trade show and management of all the affiliated programs.
When asked to describe the event, Greenzweig said, “It was part expo, part festival, part business conference, and it all was woven together by an audience brought together for a common purpose, which are these medicines, and that is nothing I've ever experienced before in my life.”
The future of psychedelics has never looked so bright.
We caught up with Greenzweig to get the inside scoop on planning and producing the biggest psychedelics conference in history.
Watch or listen to our interview here.