You’ve probably heard of a few failed drug tests in the Olympics, NBA, NFL, etc. and wondered why anyone would risk their career for marijuana.
Medical marijuana offers tons of benefits such as pain relief, reduces stress and anxiety, among others. It’s no surprise that athletes also want to enjoy such benefits, especially considering the toll sports take on their bodies.
Imagine being in a packed stadium with over 50,000 fans cheering and jeering your team. That’s so much pressure not to make a mistake and put your body on the line for the entire game.
1. Eugene Monroe (Retired Football Player)
Football is a rough sport, and if you’ve ever watched a game live, especially up close, you’ve noticed how much toll it takes on the athletes. Picture a 6’4 300-pound muscular man running at full speed and hurling himself towards you.
That doesn’t sound pleasant, or does it? Imagine the excruciating pain that these athletes have to endure every time they are on the field.
Eugene was a 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound offensive lineman who played for the Jaguars and the Ravens. He retired in 2016, aged 29, due to injury concerns.
Even before his retirement, Monroe was vocal about marijuana and was the first active NFL athlete to speak out about the use of medical marijuana in the NFL. He understood the struggle players go through trying to manage pain.
Opioids are one of their go-to drugs for pain management; however, they’re addictive. Medical marijuana is an alternative to opioids, and Monroe is advocating for its use in the NFL. He hopes that future NFL players will have access to medical marijuana instead of the harmful and addictive opioids.
Monroe is not advocating for NFL players to get high on marijuana; however, he advocates for change. He wants the NFL to treat the players better. This is possible if the NFL can exclude medical marijuana from the banned substance list and fund research into medical marijuana.
Pain management is part of the game, but that doesn’t mean that players should use addictive opioids. He’s seen what opioid addiction can do to pro athletes and doesn’t want the same to befall future generations.
He argues that at least half the NFL players you see on the field on Sunday are on some sort of pain medication. It is how the game works, you get injured, you’re prescribed pain medication, and the cycle continues.
His goal is to educate athletes and other members of the community to embrace medical marijuana. According to Eugene, prescribing more pills is not the only answer, and the NFL should dedicate resources to looking for alternatives such as medical marijuana.
2. Ricky Williams (Retired Football Player)
Ricky Williams played eleven seasons in the NFL, but his career had a few rocky bumps due to his cannabis use. People distanced themselves from him, and very few wanted to be associated with him.
He began experimenting with marijuana when he was in high school and continued using it throughout college and the NFL. Ricky Williams suffered from social anxiety and injuries; he used marijuana to deal with all this.
He was shunned for marijuana use, but it didn’t put him down. Ricky continued excelling at what he was good at and later established a brand of marijuana-based wellness products.
Although he was good at football, he knew that it wasn’t his destiny. After he retired, he launched his cannabis line, which includes vape cartridges, tonics, sales, etc. The products contain hemp-derived CBD or THC, and you can also choose a mixture of both.
Ricky Williams was a talented athlete and would have probably been a Hall of Famer. However, his suspensions haunted him. He was suspended multiple times as a result of marijuana use. He even retired in 2004, and it was rumored that he retired to use marijuana.
Ricky had his reasons to retire at his prime, one of which was studies. He spent his retirement year studying holistic medicine and came out of retirement in 2005. He didn’t last long as he was suspended for an entire season in 2006 for violating the NFL’s drug policy.
He dubbed himself the ‘most drug-tested athlete,’ but to some, he was a hero. Folks who used cannabis saw him as a role model, and he used the limelight to advocate for marijuana.
Ricky is now advocating for marijuana use by athletes, but he also notes that further research is needed to prove and unlock the benefits of marijuana.
As mentioned earlier, Ricky has social anxiety and says that medical marijuana helps alleviate his anxiety. He continues to share his journey and educate the masses on cannabis use and hopes that the laws about cannabis will change.
3. Liz Carmouche (MMA Fighter)
Liz is a pioneer in her field as she competed in the first-ever UFC women’s bout against Ronda Rousey in 2013. She was also the first openly gay fighter in the company’s history. She is also vocal about the benefits of cannabis and is currently a representative for HempMeds, one of the largest distributors of CBD products in the world.
Fighting is an extreme sport where the athletes prepare for six days a week. And you’re preparing to face an opponent who will not hesitate to punch you in the face or the abdomen. These fighters are constantly in pain and thus have to undergo surgeries and use pain meds.
Someone suggested that instead of the usual pain meds, she tried CBD, and she was hesitant. You would, too, considering the bad publicity surrounding cannabis. She did some research and came to understand that CBD would offer the same benefits as pain meds with no downsides except the stigma.
She now uses CBD to reduce inflammation, soreness, and pain. Liz Carmouche preferred natural medicine and would use turmeric root plus apple cider vinegar. But she has turned to CBD and has shared her discoveries with her mom.
She continues to educate the masses about CBD and its benefits. There are still folks who associate CBD with getting high. She hopes that her message will help change how people think about THC and CBD.
4. Nate Diaz (MMA Fighter)
Nate Diaz began his career in the fighting industry in 2001 and participated in promotions such as Shooto, PRIDE, Strikeforce, and UFC.
Diaz has ADHD and uses marijuana as a treatment for his condition. He has brutal striking force, high-level endurance and boasts of his incredible jiu-jitsu. However, he’s also known for his cannabis use.
Nate doesn’t shy away from his cannabis use and is often spotted consuming it. He was spotted enjoying his CBD vape during the UFC 202 post-fight conference. Nate made headlines as he was spotted enjoying a fat blunt during UFC 241 open workout session.
Nate has assumed an ambassadorial role for the plant and hopes to shine a light on the plant’s benefits. His main goal is to dismantle the stereotypes and stigma surrounding cannabis use.
Nate Diaz has several suspensions for cannabis use, but it hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the plant. Together with his brother, Nick Diaz, they’ve seized their fame in and out of the ring to advocate for cannabis.
They have also joined the cannabis industry and released several products under the brand. The duo has met with notable names in the cannabis scene such as Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, and enjoyed cannabis.
5. Avery Collins (Marathon Runner)
If you were to ask most marathon runners whether they’d consume cannabis, they likely answer is no. There is a lot of stigma surrounding marijuana use, and it’s refreshing to see a notable marathon runner associate with the plant.
Avery is changing how athletes and the community at large view marijuana. The last thing you’d expect a marathon runner to use is marijuana.
Collins is a resident of Colorado, where marijuana is legal. He is vocal about his use and its benefits. According to him, cannabis products help him reduce anxiety, especially during training runs. It also makes running enjoyable while reducing pain and aches.
However, he’s skeptical about using it during competitions as it’s illegal and isn’t sure whether it would affect him in any way.
According to WADA and USADA, the allowed level of marijuana in a competition is 150 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This means that athletes can use marijuana during training provided they can stop early enough to meet the allowable competition levels.
Athletes are advised not to use cannabis products as they risk testing positive and being suspended or banned. This is why most athletes avoid cannabis products as they fear testing positive.
No one wants to be called a doper, and the only hope for users is that it will eventually be excluded from the banned list. Athletes such as Collins are helping change how people view cannabis use in sports.
Collins loves running as it’s his escape from everything around him. He also enjoys cannabis as it helps immerse into his running routine and forget about everything else. His main goal is to keep racing, and the legalization of marijuana in races would be a welcome relief.
However, he notes that he wouldn’t use marijuana in races even if WADA were to exclude it from the banned list.
6. Percy Harvin (NFL Player)
Percy Harvin recently opened up to Bleacher Report about his cannabis consumption. He played at least eight years in the NFL and a combined 75 games. He was traded to Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and said that the trade heightened his anxiety.
Percy Harvin has been dealing with anxiety issues for a long, but they are not noticeable. He managed to combat them with ease until he was traded to the Seahawks, which was a situation that he didn’t anticipate.
His anxiety would skyrocket when he was in unfamiliar situations, such as press conferences. He had several prescriptions for his anxiety issues, but they didn’t seem to work.
Percy, however, tried medical marijuana, and it seemed to control his anxiety issues. Medical marijuana helped calm him, especially before a game, and it became a ritual for him.
He even stated that he never played a game without consuming medical marijuana. Harvin had over seven prescriptions, but none was as effective in combating his anxiety as medical marijuana.
It was his newfound medication, and he didn’t shy away from using it before and after games. He noted that it helped improve his performance on the field.
Now that he’s retired, Harvin is opening up about his struggle with anxiety issues and marijuana consumption. His struggles with anxiety are helping shine light on the issues that players face but rarely talk about.
Mental health affects a lot of players, but it’s never talked about as often. Players have to deal with the pressure to perform, the injuries, losses, etc. but we rarely ask if they’re doing fine.
Fortunately, Harvin found a way to ease his worries and now hopes that the world would stop stigmatizing people who use marijuana. He notes that regular people with regular jobs get through it all by consuming marijuana and should not be stigmatized.
Of course, there are those who consume marijuana and cause trouble, but they shouldn’t be seen as representatives of all marijuana users.
7. Riley Cote (Hockey Player)
Riley Cote was a force on the ice; he was tough and a bully, but he was also known for working with the community. He was passionate about helping others and spent his time educating people about issues to do with nutrition and health.
The NHL is demanding as the players can play over 80 games in a single season. Even the best athlete will feel its toll after a few seasons in the NHL. Cote spent eight years with the Flyers and noted that he often woke up with a sore and swollen body after every game.
He found cannabis at an early age, and it became his go-to medication for pain management. He learned about cannabis from his sister, who was using it to manage her multiple sclerosis.
At first, Cote saw cannabis as a recreational drug that would get you high during parties. However, as his career flourished, he realized that there is more to cannabis than just getting high.
Once he discovered the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, there was no looking back. He would consume his cannabis quietly except occasionally when he’d get together with other guys on his team who were cannabis consumers.
During his time in the NHL, they didn’t drug test for cannabis, but there was a stigma surrounding its use. Cannabis use was considered a taboo, and talking about it openly would jeopardize his career.
Due to this, Cote opted for a silent approach where he would consume cannabis while at home. He also minimized his cannabis consumption on the road as he didn’t want to mess up his career.
While traveling with the team, Cote would substitute painkillers, Ambien, etc. for cannabis. He retired after the 2010 season and has since become a cannabis advocate. He believes the NHL can do better in educating the athletes on issues to do with drug use.
While cannabis isn’t part of the banned list, the NHL can help spread awareness of cannabis’s benefits. He argues that athletes can use cannabis and other medical prescriptions to help manage concussion symptoms, chronic pain, and even mental health issues.
Cote notes that marijuana is not the ultimate cure, but it can help athletes feel more functional and deal with pain. It, however, needs to be respected and not abused.
8. Cliff Robinson (NBA Player)
Cliff Robinson played close to two decades in the NBA and claims that his success and longevity is due to his cannabis use.
The NBA is known for its strict drug use policy, and Cliff was suspended at least three times for violating the policy. He ended his career with 19,951 points and was the tallest player to make 1,000 three-pointers in NBA history. Dirk Nowitzki surpassed his record.
After his retirement, Cliff joined the cannabis industry, and his primary objective was to erode the stigma, especially towards athletes who consume marijuana. He even launched cannabis products under his ‘Uncle Spliffy’ name.
His target market was people who live an active lifestyle and want to enjoy cannabis products. If you enjoy running, hiking, playing football, basketball, etc., and would like to enrich your experience by consuming cannabis, you’re among the target market.
His goal was to destroy the myths that cannabis and athletes should not mix. He enjoyed 18 seasons in the NBA and claimed that he probably wouldn’t have lasted that if it wasn’t for cannabis.
Every industry needs pioneers, and Cliff was a pioneer in his field. He was among the first athletes to open up about his cannabis use. This helped pave the way for other athletes who are also consuming marijuana but fear being stigmatized.
He opened up doors for others, and as more athletes opened up, sports leagues began warming up to the idea of marijuana use in their respective leagues.
Cannabis was seen as a negative thing, but Cliff Robinson took it and turned it into a positive thing that helped his career. Cliff set the table for the conversation that needed to happen.
He occasionally suffered from anxiety and didn’t like using pharmaceutical drugs. They didn’t feel right, and thus He opted for marijuana. However, he encountered a few problems, such as suspensions due to his cannabis use. But he took the risk, and it paid off with 18 years in the NBA.
Unfortunately, Cliff Robinson passed away aged 53 after battling lymphoma for a year.
9. Al Harrington (NBA Player)
The last two decades have witnessed pro athletes from the NFL, MLB, and the NBA profess their love for marijuana after retirement. This is attributed to the strict drug testing policies in the major sports leagues.
Although cannabis use is still forbidden in the major leagues, one former NBA player is trying to change it. Al Harrington played in the NBA from 1998 to 2014. After his retirement, He entered into the cannabis business and also advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana in the league.
Al Harrington had never consumed marijuana before 2008. He only consumed it occasionally but became a regular user after undergoing multiple knee surgeries in 2012. Some of the surgeries were messed up, and opted to use CBD instead of pharmaceutical drugs.
He tried pain medications, but he felt uncomfortable, drowsy, and the pain hardly subsided. A friend introduced him to cannabis products, and they became his go-to remedy for his pain problems.
Even to date, he doesn’t take pharmaceutical prescription drugs as he believes the plant is better. He later introduced his grandmother, Viola, to cannabis as she was suffering from severe glaucoma. The pain was too intense, and she had trouble seeing.
Al Harrington kept trying to convince her grandmother to try, but she was hesitant. She eventually agreed and was amazed by the results. He later founded a cannabis company and named it after her grandmother, Viola.
The Viola brand produces products in states such as Colorado, Oregon, California, and Michigan. In addition to producing premium cannabis products, Al Harrington also wants to launch a cannabis incubator targeting 100 black entrepreneurs.
According to Al, the war on drugs primarily targets people of color, and he hopes that his incubator program will help black entrepreneurs in the industry.
10. Matt Barnes
If this list of pro athletes advocating for marijuana is anything to go by, it’s evident that marijuana use is widespread in sports. However, most marijuana users in sports are held back by strict drug rules.
This is why most of these athletes speak out of their marijuana after their retirement. One such athlete is Matt Barnes, an NBA player who played 14 seasons with seven different teams.
He’s a staunch advocate for marijuana and doesn’t shy away from voicing his thoughts on the subject. According to Matt, it’s unfair to legalize marijuana in the US yet punish athletes for consuming it.
Why are the fans allowed to consume marijuana, yet the players they love to watch play can’t? He also advocates for medical marijuana use over opioids as it has fewer side effects.
Matt Barnes has used anti-inflammatory pills since he was about 19 years but later switched to cannabis as it helped him sleep, manage pain, and relax. He remarks that a good percentage of the top athletes consume cannabis, lawyers, and doctors do too.
He believes that marijuana should be legalized, especially in professional sports, and hopes that he’ll be part of the group that helps effect this change. Barnes has partnered with UCLA to help reduce the stigma associated with marijuana use.
He has invested in the cannabis industry, but it’s more than just making money for him. Matt wants to make a difference and help other athletes come out comfortably to say that they consume cannabis.
Being an athlete, he has to be cautious about how he presents himself, especially about his cannabis use. Thus he focuses more on educating the masses on cannabis and its benefits.
11. Greta Gaines (Extreme Snowboarder)
Cannabis in sports has become a major topic, but for lesser-known sports like snowboarding, cannabis is part of their lifestyle. Snowboarders have used cannabis for decades and continue to do so even to date.
One such athlete is Greta Gaines, a former competitive skier who became the face of snowboarding. She was also the pioneer female to compete in a sport that was previously dominated by men.
According to Gaines, cannabis was part of her lifestyle, and other snowboarders often used it too. Most of these athletes used recreational cannabis but never really understood its importance until years later.
She now understands that marijuana helped calm her anxiety and ease her mind as she participated in the extreme sport. This is a sport where the risk of injury is extremely high. Some athletes have been maimed and even died while participating in the sport.
Cannabis helped her forget about the worries of injuries and death. In turn, she was able to perform at her best as she was only focused on that moment. Even after her retirement, she continues to use medical marijuana to ease arthritic pain.
She has also witnessed the benefits of marijuana first hand as she claims that her mother is cancer-free thanks to medical marijuana. Gaines also is a singer and has released several songs that celebrate cannabis.
She donated the proceeds from one of the songs “Light it Up” to three pro-cannabis non-profits. She also supports ‘Women Grow’, an organization dedicated to women’s leadership in the legal cannabis industry.
12. Mike Tyson (Former Professional Boxer)
Mike Tyson doesn’t need an introduction; he’s arguably one of the top heavyweight boxers of all time. During his prime, he was knocking out boxers in the first round and earned himself the reputation of ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet.’
Mike is no stranger to cannabis as he has consumed it for the better part of his life. He opened up to Weedmaps and talked about his cannabis use, which started at around 6-7 years old. He was introduced to marijuana by her mother’s friend, who gave him marijuana to put him to sleep.
Since then, he has used marijuana until this date. He, however, never used marijuana before a boxing match except for one time. This was in 2000 before his fight with Andrew Golota, which was dubbed the “Showdown in Motown.”
Mike Tyson won the fight after hammering Golota for two rounds. It was a technical knockout but was later ruled a no-contest.
Before the match, Mike Tyson declined to consent to a drug test but later took it after the fight. He had used marijuana and ended up failing the drug test; thus, his win was nullified, and it doesn’t exist on his record.
He claims that he could have passed the drug test, but he couldn’t find his fake manhood. According to Mike, men use fake manhoods filled with clean urine to cheat the tests. Tyson went on to retire in 2005 and became an advocate for marijuana.
He said that fight was good; he felt good during the fight and enjoyed the outcome despite being fined. The only reason he smoked before this fight is because he felt nervous, and it helped calm him.
When asked whether boxers should be allowed to use cannabis products, he said that boxers should be allowed to use it if they choose to do so.
He was introduced to medical marijuana by a friend, which helped him deal with his anger management issues. Tyson uses his podcast, “Hotboxin with Mike Tyson,” to educate the masses and market the cannabis culture.
He has had notable faces on his podcast, such as Snoop Dogg and Tony Williams.
Tyson had a successful career in boxing, but he was also plagued with controversy. It’s impressive to see how much he has reinvented himself over the years. He also joined the cannabis industry and not as a representative.
Mike owns Tyson Ranch together with Rob Hickman, who taught him everything he needed to know about the business. He makes public appearances, but is also involved in the running of the business.
Tyson Ranch products are not targeted towards athletes as the goal is to become a global company that avails cannabis products to those who need them. He also hopes that marijuana will be legalized in sports as he thinks his career would have been different if he was allowed to use marijuana.
Despite the CBD industry making significant strides in the last decade, professional sports continue to shun its use. These pro athletes and many others are voicing the advantages of cannabis for athletes. Hopefully, the leagues will listen and change the laws surrounding its use.