WeedWord: 5 Professional Athletes who Advocate for Marijuana

Posted by Brittany Anas on June 5, 2017

We’ve long known weed has been a muse for the creative types. Jon Stewart has quipped: “Do you know how many movies I wrote when I was high?” And Lady Gaga has been quoted as saying “I smoke a lot of pot when I write music.”

But also on Team Marijuana: Some big-name athletes, past and present.

The body of research surrounding marijuana and its effects on athletic performance is still relatively new. But studies suggest cannabis can reduce anxiety, allowing athletes to perform better under pressure and de-stress after games. Some research has shown that marijuana can also help alleviate muscle spasms and promote better sleep (which is clutch before a big competition).

For a long time, though, marijuana has been on the banned list of substances. But there’s a growing momentum to change that. Case in point: NFL players, past and present, and doctors are asking the league to reconsider its stance on marijuana. Also, former athletes are beginning to dabble in the marijuana industry, promoting its benefits.

With more athletes coming out of the “cannabis closet” and advocating for marijuana, here’s what some of the biggest pot advocates in professional sports have to say about marijuana’s benefits.

Derrick Morgan, a linebacker with the Tennessee Titans

Last year, Morgan became the first current NFL player to speak out against the NFL’s policy banning marijuana, according to CNN. He signed an open letter from the Doctors For Cannabis Regulation that recommended cannabis be treated like alcohol in the league’s policy and that the NFL consider medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain management. The letter states: “Your players are four times more likely than the general population to become addicted to painkillers.” According to the letter, some NFL players estimate that 60 percent of their teammates are regular cannabis consumers. Eight other former NFL players signed too: Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Nate Jackson, Lance Johnstone, Jim McMahon, Jake Plummer, Kyle Turley and Ricky Williams.

Ronda Rousey, UFC Fighter

During a UFC 193 press conference in 2015, Rousey took a firm stance on marijuana use, saying this: “I’m against testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug and it has nothing to do with competition. It’s only tested for political reasons.” She went on to say that testing for marijuana is an invasion of privacy. Do we really want to argue with Rousey?

Cliff Robinson, retired NBA player

The retired Trailblazer likes to blaze. (No getting around that pun). Robinson, who was known as Uncle Cliffy in the NBA is now venturing into the marijuana industry with the moniker Uncle Spliffy. He told Vice Sports: “It’s always been a way to calm myself and calm my stomach. It’s always been that calming influence in my life.” He’s currently exploring the cannabis industry and has expressed interested in starting a cannabis lifestyle club as well. While in the NBA, he was suspended twice for positive marijuana tests. He says he smoked weed after games to de-stress.

Avery Collins, ultra-runner

Endurance athlete Avery Collins, who logs 100-mile-plus runs, has said marijuana is a post-race remedy. He gave marijuana a try after moving to Colorado, and being nudged by his roommate. He recounts what it was like to go for a run while high to NormlAthletics: “I saw how productive [my roommate] was, which is against all stereotypes. He smokes three times a day. He’s really smart and productive. One day he asked me ‘have you ever thought about smoking and then going for a run?’ So I took a massive bowl rip and went on a run at one of the local parks I always run.… And just really, really enjoyed it. You feel very in tune with your body and nature – nature for sure. The miles go by pretty fast – or what I think are pretty fast.”

Floyd Landis, pro cyclist

In 2006, Landis won the Tour de France, but he was stripped of the title after he tested positive for doping. Landis opened up a cannabis business in Colorado and tells his story on the Floyd’s of Leadville website. “After my disqualification from the 2006 Tour de France and subsequent ban from professional cycling, I started to rely on opioids, not only for pain relief, but as a way to escape depression. I had won the Tour de France, considered the pinnacle of sporting accomplishment, only to have it stripped from me.” He goes on to say that when he discovered cannabis, it became a way to tailor his pain management and take control of his life as he was no longer dependent on pills.

Bonus: It’s not just athletes advocating for marijuana. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said during a podcast that he “would hope” the NBA would consider allowing marijuana use as a more healthy alternative for players than painkillers.