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10 Athletes who advocate Medical Marijuana in Sports

Posted by Adrian V on

Jim McMahon

Since winning two Super Bowl titles as starting quarterback with the Chicago Bears back in the 80’s, Jim McMahon has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana in the NFL. McMahon, now 57, has publicly opened up about his struggle with depression, memory loss, headaches as well as early on-set dementia which he attributes to the concussions he received on the field. Before discovering the benefits of medical cannabis, McMahon relied on narcotic painkillers throughout his career. He has since stated that he believes he would be in much better health today if his symptoms had been treated with cannabis instead of narcotics.

Kyle Turley

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Turley claimed that medical marijuana saved his life, after he developed an addiction to painkillers from his eight years playing offensive lineman in the NFL. Turley has openly criticized the NFL medical staff’s over-reliance on painkillers, claiming that they gave them out to players “like candy” after games.

Turley was one of 500 former players to sign onto a lawsuit against the NFL for over prescribing harmful painkillers without considering the consequences the players would face after retirement. Turley’s painkiller addiction led him to depression, and he even experienced homicidal and suicidal tendencies, stating, “I couldn’t be around a knife in the kitchen without having an urge to stab someone, including my wife and kids.”

Nate Jackson

Since retiring from the NFL, Jackson has expanded his career as a writer and medical cannabis advocate, even penning an opinion piece for the New York Times where he stated that “every single player in the N.F.L. has a certifiable need for medical marijuana”. Jackson opened up about how he used marijuana throughout his career to treat a long list of injuries and symptoms, including brain trauma, a broken tibia, fingers and ribs, and instances where he tore his hamstring and groin muscles off the bone.

Riley Cote

Former Philadelphia Flyers player Riley Cote began smoking weed recreationally as a young teenager, but it wasn’t until the start of his NHL career in his 20’s that he noticed the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for helping with his anxiety and mental clarity. The hockey player also learned from his sister about the medical benefits of marijuana, who has used the drug to treat her multiple sclerosis.

Cote is also an ambassador for Athletes for CARE (Community, Advocacy, Research, Education), a non-profit organization supporting retired athletes that campaigns for medical cannabis use in the athletic community.

Jake Plummer

After experiencing chronic pain from his 10-year career as an NFL quarterback with the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, Jake Plummer turned to CBD to manage his pain after traditional opioids and anti-inflammatories left him with side effects like bloating and intestinal cramps. Despite initial hesitation, Plummer tried out CBD oil as a supplement after a former teammate recommended it. It was so effective that Plummer even considered returning to the NFL a decade after his retirement, after his muscle and joint inflammation was greatly reduced after years of struggling with chronic pain. Plummer has since become a vocal advocate for athletic CBD use, and in November 2016 he was one of several signatories of an open letter to the NFL calling for relaxed cannabis regulation (including Jim McMahon, Kyle Turley and Ricky Williams who are also on this list).

Ronda Rousey

The legendary Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey became the first ever female fighter to be inducted into the UFC hall of fame earlier this year, but the fighter has proved herself equally “rowdy” outside the ring. The former UFC champion and Olympic medalist has publicly spoken out against UFC fighters being tested for marijuana, since it’s not a performance enhancing drug, stating that it is only tested for “political reasons”. When her fellow MMA fighter Nick Diaz was suspended for 5 years for testing positive for marijuana, Rousey called out his unfair suspension in comparison to Anderson Silva who was given just a one year suspension for using anabolic steroids.

Not only does Rousey advocate for medical marijuana use, her morning breakfast even includes consuming two tablespoons of hemp seeds.

Jay Williams

The former NBA player turned ESPN analyst has openly discussed his support for medical marijuana use, and even said that he thinks at least 80% of NBA players use cannabis despite the common misconception that it’s a “gateway drug”.

In an interview with Fox, Williams condemned the double-standard that makes addictive drugs like Vicodin and Percocet socially acceptable, in comparison to the stigma around natural supplements like cannabis oil. Williams also spoke about his experience with OxyContin addiction for over five years and has condemned NBA doctors over-prescribing addictive painkillers and narcotics as a quick fix for more serious underlying injuries.

Steve Kerr

As the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr has branded himself as a proponent of medical marijuana, believing that it is a much safer option than many common prescription drugs for pain treatment. Describing the hesitation around medical cannabis use as a “perception issue” in the NBA, Kerr acknowledged the potential PR disaster around players being viewed as “potheads”, but believes that soon medical cannabis will overtake prescription narcotics in the sports leagues as “education will overwhelm the perception”.

Bill Walton

As a former basketball player, proud Dead Head and television sportscaster, Bill Walton has never been shy about sharing his pro-cannabis views on the air. After a commercial break on an ESPNU segment, Walton was caught on tape in the middle of a passionate pro-marijuana speech calling for the declassification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (where it’s lumped in with LSD and heroin). Dressed in a flamboyant Uncle Sam suit, Walton called on then-president Barrack Obama to grant blanket amnesty to offenders imprisoned for marijuana related offences.

Walton has also spoken on-air criticizing NCAA marijuana regulations, stating that “this whole War on Drugs has been an absolute failure across the board”, calling for the NCAA to modernize their rules.

Ricky Williams

After playing as a running back with the NFL for 12 seasons, Williams cut his career short after a series of failed drug tests for marijuana.

Since his retirement from the Miami Dolphins, Williams studied Ayurveda, the ancient Indian art of holistic medicine. Earlier this year, Williams also announced he was developing a line of cannabis-based products under the name “Real Wellness by Ricky Williams”, a line of products promoting a “herbal approach to everyday wellness”. The line features vape cartridges, CBD tonic, and sports products like CBD-infused maintenance and repair salve for muscle pain. As well as being an advocate for alternative medicine, Williams is also a qualified yoga instructor.


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