Cannabis has been prohibited in the United States since 1937. Professional sports leagues have not always prohibited cannabis, if for any reason because drug testing in athletics for banned substances did not begin until 1968. Drug testing athletes was seen as being completely acceptable back then. A Gallup poll from 1969 found that 88% of Americans supported cannabis prohibition.

A lot has changed in the decades that followed the 1969 poll. More and More Americans are realizing that cannabis prohibition was built on lies and propaganda, and not sound science. Zoom forward to today, and support for legalizing cannabis in society has never been greater. A recent CBS News poll found a record level of support for ending cannabis prohibition. Per the poll:

Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll. Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use.

Presumably many of the poll participants are fans of professional sports, and the Uncle Cliffy team thinks it’s a safe assumption that the fans’ support for legalization in society would also be applied to legalization in professional sports leagues. In fact, support is likely even higher (no pun intended) for athletes. A recent poll conducted by Yahoo and Marist College found that 71% of sports fans would have the same level of respect, or more respect, for a professional athlete that chose to consume cannabis.

With such a record level of support, why are professional sports league officials and team owners clinging to prohibition? Fans are where the revenue comes from for professional sports leagues, and they have spoken loud and clear. So why aren’t leagues listening and engaging in a meaningful discussion about cannabis prohibition, instead of punting the issue down the road and hiding behind the delay tactic of claiming that ‘there needs to be more cannabis research‘?

Cannabis has been legalized in some form (at least CBD) in every state in America except five states (Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota). There are only two teams from the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and/or Major League Baseball (MLB) in those states, and they are both in Indiana (the Pacers and the Colts). Indiana’s Governor currently has a medical cannabis bill awaiting his signature, which if signed, would result in zero NFL, NBA, or MLB professional teams being located in a state where cannabis is completely prohibited.

Cannabis has been proven to help treat many ailments, is legal in some form in a vast majority of American states, league fans support it, cannabis is safer than alcohol (which leagues widely embrace), so why not allow athletes to make the safer choice if they choose to do so? The Uncle Cliffy team is by no means saying that cannabis use should be required by athletes. What we are saying, and what an overwhelming majority of professional sports fans are saying, is that athletes should not be punished for choosing cannabis. That demand is backed by science and polling, as well as logic, reasoning, and compassion. Give fans and athletes what they want. Free the plant!