Bleacher Report, a sports publication, has been interviewing athletes on their opinion of cannabis. This weekend they published a project where they asked professional athletes why they use the drug. Many of the answers noted the benefits of medicinal cannabis...
The project by Bleacher Report (B/R) was called "B/R x 4/20" and it approached athletes to get real feedback concerning attitudes about cannabis within the inner circles of leagues like the NBA and NFL. The publication argues that "The time has arrived for an honest dialogue—one that neither endorses nor condemns marijuana in sports. Just a genuine discussion that helps fans understand why and how often it's being used, behind the scenes." They approached former players who would not be placing their careers in jeopardy, and many came forward for on-the-record interviews including former NBA players Barnes, Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley, and Kenyon Martin as well as former NFL players Shaun Smith, Ryan Clady, Bo Scaife, and John Moffitt.
Many retired players wanted to counter stigmas and felt the need to speak for former teammates who may agree but cannot voice their opinions. They wanted to be the spokespeople for players who use cannabis but cannot admit it because they are "fearful of the backlash and its potential impact on mid-career contracts and sponsorships, as well as post-career ventures tied to sports." Former NFL player John Moffitt specifically noted that he chose to speak with BR because he believes it was working towards "breaking the stigma."
The reasons professional athletes gave for the consumption of cannabis varied and, while they included recreational usage, most of them were for medical reasons like pain management, anxiety, and insomnia.
On the note of pain management, one of the most important notes that B/R included came from the NFL players association, which B/R said "has remained open to medical marijuana as an alternative and established an exploratory pain-management committee involving players, physicians and researchers over the last two offseasons..." As has been previously written, the fact that the NFLPA has itself sponsored research concerning the utilization of medicinal cannabis, is a large sign that athletes support cannabis.
"Bo" Scaife, a former football player, was among those who argued that medicinal cannabis was an alternative to the addictive opioids which have caused an epidemic that the President declared a public health emergency. Scaife said, "You've got all these drugs that you put in yourself just to play - they were giving me those things readily, so it was easy for me to start smoking and receiving the benefits of marijuana as a viable option [as] opposed to the prescription drugs... I think people overlook that this is a medicine — and it's a healing medicine — and the rhetoric hasn't always supported that."
The B/R project does an excellent job conveying how the stigmas which surround cannabis have adversely affected top athletes. These are individuals whose lives are dedicated to maintaining the highest levels of physical ability and whose bodies are constantly being abused; their extensive usage of medicinal cannabis is a testament to the drug's efficacy. Further, the advocacy efforts and the attempts at honest discussion concerning the subject by former athletes should serve as an undeniable signal that a change in attitude is needed.