There has been a lot of chatter regarding marijuana testing and use in professional sports, and this week two former athletes, Jay Williams of the Chicago Bulls and Jake Plummer of the Denver Broncos, have both come out in support of their respective leagues being more open to cannabis.
“It’s easy for doctors to prescribe you Oxycontin, and look, I was addicted to it for five-plus years, so I know,” Williams said. “But when you say marijuana, you get a reaction. ‘Ahhh, it’s a gateway drug.’ You see pictures of guys in California going in and getting their medical marijuana cards. And I’m not just saying athletes, let’s talk about society. I know a lot of people that use it. It’s something that the whole world is becoming more progressive with. So it’s about time some of these entities do as well.”
In the same respect, Plummer advocates cannabidiol (CBD) for its medicinal uses.
“I’m 41 and the Broncos need a new quarterback,” Plummer recently said. “I’m not thinking about it, but the thought crossed my mind because my body feels great after playing for 10 years in the league and being retired. I owe a lot of that to CBD and what it’s done for me.”
Plummer and former Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe are being sponsored by a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to researching the medical uses for cannabis called Realm of Caring, which is attempting to link up with Johns Hopkins University in order to study the use of CBD to treat and prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease which is directly linked to concussions.
The NBA is facing similar issues, and according to Williams, “I know so many athletes that play on Percocet. Have you ever taken Percocet by the way? It makes you way more groggy than rubbing cannabis oil into your skin.”
He continued, “It’s demonized in society too. Oh, he’s a pothead. No, I actually just use cannabis oil because it helps with inflammation and takes away some anxiety.” According to Williams, 75-80% of athletes in the NBA use marijuana.
Although Williams is the most recent NBA player to come out pro-marijuana, he isn’t the first. Former UConn star Cliff Robinson, who was suspended twice for marijuana during his NBA career, said in January that he wants to “distill the stigma around cannabis and the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible.”
Although both the NBA and NFL are still resistant to changing their strict anti-marijuana policies, hopefully as more athletes speak out and cannabis becomes more widely legalized and acceptable, these organizations will open their eyes and realize their ignorance is hurting the very thing they themselves are based upon: the players.