Last year was a big year for the sports cannabis movement. An ever-increasing number of professional athletes, both current and retired, are joining the movement in an effort to free the plant in professional sports leagues as well as in society. What will 2018 bring? Will it be an even bigger year for the sports cannabis movement compared to 2017?
On the first day of 2018, the Uncle Cliffy team feels that it was important to look forward to the upcoming year. It’s anyone’s guess as to what pro sports leagues’ leadership will do, or not do when it comes to cannabis policy. The Uncle Cliffy team is hopeful that leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) will get on the right side of history and let their players make the safer choice if they want to.
When professional sports leagues choose to prohibit cannabis use by their players, the leagues are establishing cannabis policies based on political views and not science. Because of that, any political victories experienced in society have an impact on the effort to end cannabis prohibition in professional sports. 2018 is an election year and its already shaping up to be very promising for cannabis reform.
As of right now, there are 8 states that have legalized cannabis for adult use and 29 states that have legalized cannabis for medical use. Washington D.C. has also legalized cannabis for both medical and adult use. Multiple states are expected to vote on medical cannabis initiatives in 2018, as well as at least one state voting on an adult-use legalization initiative.
Oklahoma, Missouri, and Utah are all expected to vote on medical cannabis initiatives in 2018. Oklahoma’s initiative has already made the ballot, and advocates are waiting on Oklahoma’s Governor to decide if the vote on the initiative will take place during the primary election (June) or the general election (November).
Efforts in Missouri and Utah are currently gathering signatures in the hopes of placing medical cannabis on the ballot in November. All three states are home to professional sports teams.
Michigan activists turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures for an adult-use initiative in an attempt to make the November ballot. The initiative will be put in front of voters on Election Day if enough of the signatures are determined to be valid. Advocates in Ohio recently announced that they will also be pushing to get an adult-use initiative on the ballot in November. Michigan and Ohio are both home to several professional sports teams.
Every state that has legalized cannabis for adult use so far has done so via the citizen initiative process. However, multiple states are in the running in 2018 to be the first state to legalize cannabis for adult use via legislative action. Vermont and New Jersey both seem to be the most likely to legalize cannabis in 2018 via legislative action.
Vermont and New Jersey are not the official home of an NBA, NFL, or MLB team, but the New York Giants and New York Jets both play their home games in Metlife Stadium which are located in New Jersey. If either or both states legalize cannabis for adult use, it will be very significant and will help add to the sports cannabis movement’s momentum.
Efforts in other states are also underway, and the Uncle Cliffy team is rooting for all of them. Every state that reforms its cannabis laws increases the chances that professional sports leagues will do the same. Players want reform, fans want reform, and even members of team’s leadership and the sports media community want reform. 2018 will hopefully be the year that the sports cannabis movement reaches critical mass and puts enough pressure on the leagues that they free the plant!
Professional athletes can violate league cannabis policies in two ways. The first is by failing a drug test. Each major professional sports league in America has its own THC metabolite threshold for drug testing. Major League Baseball (MLB) has a threshold of 50 ng/mL. The National Football League (NFL) has a threshold of 35 ng/mL and the National Basketball Association (NBA) has a threshold of just 15 ng/mL. If players cross that threshold, they will have failed the drug test.
To put those thresholds into perspective, Olympic athletes are held to a standard of 150 ng/mL. Ideally, there would be no threshold at all. The National Hockey League (NHL) does not list cannabis on its list of banned substances, although NHL players could in theory still be punished for cannabis via mandatory entry into the NHL’s substance-abuse program.
The second way that athletes can be found as having violated league cannabis policy is if they are convicted of a cannabis offense while away from their team. This particular violation is extremely problematic, as the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out before. Federal and state-level cannabis prohibition laws are forms of institutional racism, as available data clearly demonstrates. One of the many examples that prove that point can be found in Buffalo, New York (Clifford Robinson’s hometown). Despite Caucasians consuming cannabis at a higher rate in Buffalo, African Americans are 7 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis.
If an African American athlete is seven times more likely to be arrested for cannabis when away from their team, and leagues punish players that are convicted of cannabis offenses, then African American players are therefore seven times more likely to be punished for cannabis by their leagues compared to Caucasian players. That perpetuation of institutional racism is obviously unacceptable, which is why the Uncle Cliffy team highlights the injustice involved on a frequent basis (and will continue to do so!).
Leadership in professional sports leagues, and members of the media, often try to downplay the seriousness of cannabis prohibition in sports by cracking jokes and making cannabis consuming athletes out to be ‘potheads.’ But cannabis prohibition is far from a laughing matter. Professional athletes are punished for cannabis in many ways, some being more obvious than others, but with all forms of punishment being harmful and unjust. Below are ten ways that professional athletes are punished because of sports leagues’ cannabis prohibition policies.
The punishment that professional athletes face that sports fans are most familiar with is a suspension. A player is prohibited from competing when they are found to have consumed cannabis or if they are convicted of a cannabis offense when away from their teams. Suspensions vary from league to league, and it depends on the athlete’s prior history with cannabis policy violations.
Professional sports league officials and team owners should want their players on the field or court, and not to be wearing street clothes when the game starts. That’s especially true when the reason for the suspension is that the player was found to have consumed or possessed a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol.
2. Public Shaming
In America, people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But when it comes to professional athletes and cannabis, the opposite is true. Long before a professional athlete is afforded due process, major media outlets shame them relentlessly. So much so that the stigma carries over to the locker room and players have to deal with shaming and shunning from their fellow teammates.
Even if a league ultimately decides to not take action against an athlete that is involved in a situation that includes cannabis, they are blasted on sports media outlets and mainstream media outlets over and over. Athletes are portrayed as having let down their teams, their coaches, and their families, which is blatant hypocrisy given sports leagues’ embracing of substances that are exponentially more harmful.
3. Locked out of Coaching Opportunites
Anyone who has been paying attention has likely noticed that athletes that have been associated with cannabis have not ended up in coaching positions. This form of punishment is a prime example of how athletes have to deal with the stigma that comes with being associated with cannabis well after their playing days are over. It often doesn’t matter how successful or knowledgeable an athlete is, if they are known for being a cannabis consumer, they are very rarely offered coaching positions in professional sports leagues.
4. No Endorsements
Professional athletes have massive followings and access to enormous platforms that amplify their voices. Because of that, professional athletes are frequently signed up to endorse various products and services. However, if an athlete has been publicly shamed for their cannabis use, it makes companies hesitant to work with them.
For many cannabis consuming athletes, endorsement deals are non-existent, no matter how popular they are in the markets they competed in. For athletes that already have endorsement deals in place, a cannabis offense or association with the cannabis plant can result in those deals being terminated, such as in the case of prolific Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
5. Broadcasting Opportunities Remain Elusive
One position in professional sports that retired athletes commonly fill is that of a broadcaster. Broadcaster positions exist on television and radio and come in many forms. While it’s understandable that not everyone gets a full-time gig in broadcasting after they retire from professional sports, popular players are almost always invited to at least participate in some form of broadcasting, even if it’s just for broadcast appearances.
However, professional athletes that have been branded with the ‘cannabis scarlet letter’ are rarely offered such opportunities, no matter how successful they were as an athlete, or how popular they are among team fanbases. It’s obviously not a coincidence, whether teams, leagues, and networks want to admit it or not.
6. No Recognition for Accomplishments
Many players that are associated with cannabis are pushed out of professional sports before they are able to accumulate noteworthy accomplishments. However, in the rare instances when a player is able to overcome the stigma and achieve despite being associated with cannabis, those achievements are rarely recognized by teams and leagues.
All professional sports teams recognize their best athletes in one way or another, with one of the most common ways being the retirement of a player’s jersey number. But if an elite athlete is associated with cannabis, they are virtually never recognized in such a way. This is true even when the athlete was an all-star, even when they won league honors, and even when they still rank among the top players in statistical categories for the team(s) that they played for.
7. Harmed Health
Cannabis has undeniable wellness benefits. A number of studies and personal experiences have found that to be the case. Anyone who says otherwise has obviously not looked at the growing body of evidence that cannabis is indeed medicine. Studies have also found that cannabis can help athletes reduce their use of harmful opioids and other pharmaceuticals.
Yet, despite cannabis’ obvious medical benefits, leagues like the NFL and NBA do not allow any medical exceptions for cannabis use. Even players like Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, who cannot use opioids because he had part of his intestine surgically removed due to suffering from Crohn’s disease, are punished with enormous suspensions for using cannabis, even though it’s a proven medicine.
Professional athletes can use opioids, other pharmaceuticals, and alcohol and they will not be punished. In fact, leagues embrace those substances and often push them on players while prohibiting cannabis, despite the fact that those substances are exponentially more harmful than cannabis. Obvious such policies and practices are based on political opinions, and not on science and compassion.
8. Robbed of the Chance to Own a Part of History
Athletes should be measured by the content of their character and their skills in competition, and not based on the amount of THC metabolites that they have in their system. If an athlete is too hurt to compete, or their skill level is such that they don’t make a team, so be it. No one should argue to the contrary.
However, if the only reason that an athlete is not allowed to compete is because of cannabis consumption or they were caught with cannabis, that is a huge injustice. By taking players out of competition, players are being robbed of a chance to own a part of history. At the least, they are robbed of the moments and statistics that they would have otherwise accumulated during competition.
But at the worst, a cannabis suspension could cost a player a shot at a championship. It could also cost an athlete their entire career in the case of those that faced a level of stigma so great that they walked away or were forced away from the sport that they loved and dedicated their lives to.
9. Reduced Contracts
Professional athletes that are suspended for cannabis lose money upfront because of how athletes are paid. Professional athletes are paid game checks, and if they do not compete in a game due to a suspension, they are not paid.
But that is not the only way that professional athletes are punished financially. Athletes that are associated with cannabis often see contract offers that are lower than anticipated, or even worse, they are not offered any contract offers at all.
10. League Intimidation
Even if an athlete does not consume cannabis, they can still face a tremendous level of stigma from professional sports leagues if they express support for cannabis reform. A prime example of that would be what happened to Chicago Bears lineman Kyle Long earlier this year.
After having posted a snarky pro-cannabis tweet, Kyle Long was almost immediately hit with a ‘random’ drug test by the NFL. Kyle Long ultimately passed the drug test, but it was clear that the intent of the drug test was to send a chilling effect towards Mr. Long and other players that would speak out against the NFL’s cannabis prohibition policy. No one, professional athletes included, should ever have to deal with that type of intimidation.
A number of sports leagues and organizations prohibit cannabis use by athletes, and have for many years. Cannabis use is prohibited in leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB), even when the use occurs in a legal state, and even when the use is medical in nature. The Uncle Cliffy team, led by 18 year NBA veteran Clifford Robinson, wholeheartedly opposes cannabis prohibition in professional sports.
Cannabis prohibition does not work, but for some reason many league officials and athletic competition regulators cling to the failed policy anyways. Various reasons are offered up by sports cannabis prohibitionists as justification for keeping prohibition in place. The reasons offered up are not valid and the claims prohibitionists make are often based on personal opinions rather than on facts. Anyone who has conducted sufficient research can easily debunk the reasons offered up by officials who try to justify prohibiting cannabis in professional sports.
One of the most common reasons offered up by sports cannabis prohibitionists is that ‘there needs to be more research’ conducted before leagues and regulatory entities can make an educated decision on a policy change. As the Uncle Cliffy team has previously pointed out, cannabis is one of the most studied substances on the planet. Cannabis has been the subject of more peer reviewed studies than Toradol, Hydrocodone, and Tylenol – combined. All three of those substances are widely embraced by professional sports leagues. If there has been enough studies of those substances to warrant allowing their use by athletes in the NBA, NFL, and MLB, why isn’t the same true for cannabis?
Another common reason offered up by sports cannabis prohibitionists is that cannabis is harmful to players, with no exceptions. That claim completely ignores the undeniable, growing body of evidence that proves that cannabis can be very beneficial for athletes. We list several studies on our website which have found that cannabis can be effective at treating pain and brain injuries. Cannabis is also effective at treating many other conditions and ailments. Cannabis can also help athletes reduce their reliance on opioids and other pharmaceutical drugs, which is something that every league should be on board with. Cannabis has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol, yet cannabis is banned and alcohol is widely embraced by professional sports leagues. How does that make sense? It doesn’t.
A third reason offered up by some sports cannabis prohibitionists, which is ironic given the previous paragraph, is that cannabis is a performance enhancing drug. The Uncle Cliffy team does not believe that cannabis is an athletic performance enhancer, at least not to the point that it warrants being prohibited for that reason. Some research has found that cannabis consumption can increase blood flow and oxygen uptake. However, the same could be said for water and a number of foods. Cannabis can help with inflammation and pain, but so too can various over-the-counter medications that are not prohibited by professional sports leagues.
Just because a substance provides a slight difference in biological functions such as oxygen uptake does not mean that it should be categorized as a performance enhancing drug. A difference needs to be made between substances that slightly increase a biological function and those that clearly provide an advantage to athletes that use them. A substance needs to provide a significant physical advantage to an athlete in order to warrant being classified as a performance enhancing drug, and therefore be banned in professional sports leagues. What the exact threshold should be is something that the Uncle Cliffy team will leave to the scientific community, but we feel very confident in saying that cannabis is not a performance enhancing drug and should not be in the same category as anabolic steroids.
From a scientific standpoint, cannabis can help athletes via wellness benefits, and is safer than other substances that athletes are allowed to use. From a rules standpoint, any concerns that prohibitionists have do not outweigh the need for compassion for athletes and the need to eliminate the perpetuation of institutional racism in professional sports. Cannabis prohibition has a disproportionate impact on minority athletes, and that is something that professional sports leagues should want to avoid. League cannabis policies should be based on science and logic, not the personal political beliefs of a small group of league officials and sports competition regulators. If the National Hockey League can operate successfully without including cannabis on its list of banned substances, other leagues can certainly do the same. Free the plant!
Cannabis reform has been sweeping across America since 1996 when the first state, California, voted to legalize medical cannabis. Since that time a number of states have followed suit in legalizing medical cannabis, and eight states have voted to legalize cannabis altogether. Washington D.C. has also legalized cannabis for both medical and adult use.
But while cannabis reform has occurred in society, most professional sports leagues have not evolved past full prohibition. The National Hockey League does not list cannabis as a banned substance, but Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) all prohibit cannabis, no exceptions. This despite an overwhelming majority of teams in those leagues being located in a state or country (Canada) that has reformed its cannabis laws in some form.
As the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out before, cannabis has been legalized in some form (at least cannabidiol and/or low THC) in every state in America except five states (Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota). It is worth pointing out that Nebraska has decriminalized possession of cannabis, which puts it ahead of professional sports leagues that punish its players for possessing cannabis in states where it is a crime. However, Nebraska does not have a MLB, NFL, or NBA team.
There are only two teams from the NFL, NBA and/or MLB in the referenced list of full prohibition states, and they are both located 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. A recent tweet by local Indiana media suggests that the Governor is very likely to sign the bill, as seen below:
— FOX59 News (@FOX59) April 25, 2017
Soon there will be no MLB, NFL, or NBA teams located in full prohibition states barring some type of league expansion. Players in these major sports leagues can legally purchase cannabis for adult use purposes right now in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, provided that they are 21 years old or older. Soon the same will be true for Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts, and California. California in particular is home to many MLB, NFL, and NBA teams. Legalization is also coming to Canada next summer at the federal level.
It’s beyond time that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and any other sports leagues that prohibit cannabis by its competitors make a serious effort and re-evaluate their stance against cannabis. They need to get on the right side of history and allow the players to make the safer choice. Free the plant!
image via WellandGood.com
Both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have a team located in Toronto, Canada (Raptors and Blue Jays, respectively). In the past there was also an NBA team in Vancouver (the Grizzlies, now in Memphis) and a MLB team in Montreal (the Expos, now the Washington Nationals). A significant number of athletes that compete in other leagues cross back and forth between the United States/Canadian border for competition purposes, in addition to those in the MLB and NBA.
Because of these factors, a big shift in cannabis policy in Canada would be a big deal to professional sports leagues that are based in America, especially if American policy didn’t evolve along with Canada’s. Canada’s government recently announced a goal date to implement cannabis legalization for adult use, which is something that has been talked about often ever since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015. Per CBC:
The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.
CBC News has learned that the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.
The legal age for cannabis consumption in Canada is currently proposed to be 18 years or older. That is three years younger than any state in America that has voted to legalize cannabis for adult use. Most of the professional sports teams located in Canada are in the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL does not list cannabis on its list of banned substances, so legalization in Canada will not affect athletes in those leagues from a drug testing perspective.
However, there is another issue that even cannabis consuming NHL players still have to deal with. As previously discussed on the Uncle Cliffy blog, when people are trying to enter the United States they are asked, among other questions, if they have ever consumed cannabis. If they answer in the affirmative, they run the risk of being denied entry into the United States. That is what happened to Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, and could happen to athletes who are traveling from Canada for competition in the United States. An adult athlete would be able to legally consume cannabis in Canada after legalization, protected by a federal law from a neighboring country, but that legal act could mean the difference between being able to make it to the next game on the road trip, or being stranded in Canada, stuck in legal limbo. How would a league handle that situation, as it’s a very real possibility in the future?
Any athlete who is competing in a situation that involves drug testing will essentially be forced to either roll the dice, or refrain from cannabis consumption while in Canada. This despite cannabis being legal in Canada soon, and despite cannabis being proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol which is a substance widely embraced by leagues that prohibit cannabis.
THC can stay in a person’s body for as long as 100 days according to at least one study, which means that an athlete runs the risk of being penalized well after the consumption took place. And that doesn’t even consider what type of consumption method or for what purpose the athlete consumed. The athlete could have very well consumed cannabis in a smokeless form, of a cannabinoid composition level that does not even create euphoria, and entirely for medical purposes. All of this being 100% legal in Canada in the not-so-distant future for adult use, and currently already legal for medical use. How does that make any sense?
The NHL has proven that cannabis can be removed from a league’s banned substances list and that the sky will remain intact. 8 states in America have legalized cannabis for adult use, as has Washington D.C., and soon, the entire nation of Canada will also have legalized. Athletes shouldn’t have to have their careers put at risk, or even worse ended entirely, because they chose to use a substance, the legalization of which is supported by 60% of Americans.
Professional sports leagues may not be able to change public policy in America to eliminate potential issues around cannabis use and entry into the United States, but professional sports leagues can recognize that prohibition has failed, and that league policies should get on the right side of history. Cannabis legalization is coming to Canada in 2018, and likely to more states in America by the end of 2018. One state that is likely to legalize in 2018 is Michigan which borders Canada, and which is home to the Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA), and Lions (NFL). Other states will likely legalize cannabis for medical use by the end of 2018. All professional sports leagues need to follow suit and free the plant!
Cannabis consumption of any kind is prohibited in most professional sports, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB). Cannabis prohibition is a failed policy whether it’s in professional sports or society, and is very harmful to those that have to deal with prohibition’s unfair consequences.
Many upstanding professional athletes have had their careers hindered, or even derailed, because of cannabis prohibition. Athletes should be measure by their physical skills and moral character, and not by the level of cannabinoids in their system. Below are ten reasons why professional sports leagues should get with the times and end cannabis prohibition.
1. Because cannabis is safer than substances that leagues currently embraces
Alcohol and opioid painkillers are used widely by professional athletes, and embraced by professional sports leagues. Cannabis has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. Opioid addiction is a major problem in professional sports leagues, due in large part to how often painkillers are pushed on players. As many as 40 people die every day in America from opioid based painkillers. Cannabis has never killed anyone.
2. Because cannabis helps suffering players
Athletes get hurt. If you play sports long enough, you will incur injuries either from contact with another player or surface, or from wear and tear. There’s simply no way around it. Cannabis has been found to be a proven medicine that can effectively treat all types of ailments that athletes suffer from, including and especially chronic pain. Cannabis is one of the most studied substances in America, with over 23,000+ medical papers published about the topic to date. Cannabis is medicine. That’s an undeniable fact.
3. Because consumption will not go away, it’s just pushed into the shadows
Cannabis has been prohibited in professional sports for many years now, yet consumption rates are still significantly high (no pun intended). That’s not a bad thing. Cannabis consumption is going to occur regardless of if it’s prohibited or not, the only difference is that players will be doing it in secret under prohibition, and likely with little to no thought as to what type of cannabis or consumption method is best for their situation. Legalization pulls that consumption out of the shadows, which is an undeniably better approach for players’ health.
4. Because the punishment doesn’t fit ‘the crime’
There are numerous professional athletes, Cliff Robinson included, that have been penalized for making the safer choice to consume cannabis instead of alcohol or pharmaceutical painkillers. These athletes were prevented from competing in a sport that they had dedicated their lives to, all because they chose to consume a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. If the only violation is that an athlete was caught possessing and/or consuming cannabis, a substance that is safer than alcohol and painkillers, how is it justified that the athlete should be prevented from competing? If the athlete was not found to be harming another human in any way, how is justified to penalize them in so harsh a manner as to keep them from coming to work and/or fining them large sums of money?
5. Because it will help combat the opioid epidemic in pro sports
644 NFL players were surveyed in 2010 about opioid use. Per the survey, ‘Over half (52%) used opioids during their NFL career with 71% reporting misuse. Additionally, 15% of NFL misusers currently misused vs. 5% among players who used just as prescribed during their NFL career. Prevalence of current opioid use was 7%–3 times the rate of the general population.’ That is a problem that is found throughout professional sports, and the problem seems to grow with every passing year. Patients using medical cannabis to control chronic pain reported a 64% reduction in opioid use, per a University of Michigan study. If professional sports leagues are serious about their desire to reduce opioid abuse among players, which we here at Uncle Cliffy Sports Cannabis sincerely hope is the case, removing cannabis as a banned substance would significantly help achieve the goal.
6. Because cannabis prohibition is a racist, failed policy
Cannabis prohibition disproportionately affects minorities. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) African Americans are almost four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis than white people, even though consumption rates are roughly the same for both races. In St. Louis specifically, one study found that African Americans were arrested 18 times more often than white people for cannabis. This is tremendously important because many sports leagues treat a legal cannabis issue such as an arrest as grounds for league sanctions. By enforcing cannabis prohibition in that manner, professional sports leagues are perpetuating the systematic racism that is so ingrained in America’s criminal justice system. If leagues truly embraced diversity and equality, they would get on the right side of history and remove cannabis as a banned substance.
7. Because fans support cannabis reform
Gallup has been asking Americans if they support cannabis legalization since 1969. Back then, only 12% of Americans that participated in the survey supported cannabis legalization. That number has since steadily surged to an all-time high of 60% this year. Support is even greater for the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Professional sports leagues need to recognize that reforming cannabis policies in their leagues is not a risky move. After all, polling consistently has shown that most Americans would welcome such a move.
8. Because so many teams are located in states/districts that are legal
There are many NFL, NBA, and MLB teams located in states (and D.C.) that have voted to legalize cannabis for adult use. Those teams are: Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Washington Redskins, Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards. This of course doesn’t even include states that have legalized medical cannabis, nor does it include other professional sports leagues who have teams or hold competitions in legal states.
9. Because doctors and law enforcement support it
Doctors for Cannabis Regulation is making a big push for cannabis reform in sports. The doctors that help lead the organization are established and very much respected in the medical community. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an organization comprised of current and retired members of law enforcement who have witnessed first hand the failures of cannabis prohibition, and therefore fight to end cannabis prohibition wherever it may exist. Common reasons that cannabis opponents offer up as to why they oppose cannabis reform (including in sports) is because it’s bad for peoples’ health and it’s illegal. It’s important for sports leagues to know that doctors and cops are among those leading the charge to reform cannabis laws in America, which includes professional sports leagues.
10. The NHL has done it, and the sky is still intact
The National Hockey League (NHL) does not include cannabis on its list of banned substances. This sensible approach to cannabis policy is something that other professional sports leagues should adopt, and is definitive proof that removing cannabis as a banned substance does not result in the downfall of a sport or its players.
image via ThirdMonk.net
A lifetime of playing sports can take its toll on the human body. Professional and amateur athletes sacrifice their bodies regularly in order to become better at their craft. That leads to a lot of aches and pains which are commonly treated with opioid based painkillers. Painkillers are harmful to the human body, and while they provide temporary relief, they do not help the body heal and instead just mask the pain (for a time).
Cannabis on the other hand has been proven to not only help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, it also helps the body repair itself. Unlike pharmaceutical painkillers, cannabis does not harm the body’s organs and does not lead to a lifelong battle with addiction. Cannabis is a much safer alternative to painkillers, which is something that former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher David Wells knows about first hand, which is why he has been spreading awareness about the benefits of cannabis. Per The Post Game:
For years, Wells says he was like many athletes who took painkillers such as Percocet on a regular basis: Sometimes after surgery. Sometimes just to get through another start while dealing with the grind of pitching. Sometimes recreationally. He continued using these painkillers even after he ended his 21-year MLB career in 2007. Then he tried CBD (cannabidiol), and Wells says he hasn’t touched an opioid since.
Wells had grown weary of the drugs’ after-effects — “I feel like crap” — and turned to CBD after watching a 60 Minutes story about how it helped cure a young girl in Colorado who was suffering 300 seizures a week.
“I wish I knew about it back when I played because I would’ve been all over it,” Wells told ThePostGame’s David Katz in an exclusive interview. “I would’ve took those risks. If they tested me — ‘hey, you got marijuana in your system’ — I’ll bring it to them: This is what it is. Dissect it. Take it in a lab and see what it’s about.”
As it stands right now, MLB players are not allowed to use cannabis. They are however allowed to use insane amounts of pharmaceutical painkillers, which is a very harmful policy. Baseball players, as with all responsible adult athletes, should be able to make the safer choice to use cannabis if they and their doctors choose to. Too many former athletes have similar stories as David Wells. Stories that are full of misery and unnecessary suffering. There is a better way, and leagues need to recognize that fact and put their players’ health first.