While smoking a joint and streaming live on Instagram Thursday night, David Irving, defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, announced that he is quitting his job with the National Football League (NFL).
“Basically, guys, I quit. I know they’re talking about a suspension and all this other nonsense. I’m out of there. I’m not doing this sh** no more,” Irving said during the video stream on Instagram Live.
Irving completed the live stream in response to being suspended indefinitely by the Cowboys after his urine tested positive for the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolite again. This is the third time he has been suspended in four years for failing to abide by the league’s outdated drug policy.
“Everyone questions my commitment to football,” he said. “But let’s it straight…I love football…However, I don’t love the NFL. The NFL isn’t football.”
Like many others, Irving has expressed many times that he believes NFL players should be permitted to medicate and treat injuries with cannabis instead of opioids if they choose. He supports the #plantsoverpills movement with the hashtag proudly displayed at the top of his Instagram page. He also repeated the statement multiple times during the nearly 20 minute Instagram Live video stream.
One thing was made clear during the stream: Irving thinks it’s bullsh**.
“We got this opioid thing going on and I’m prescribed all that bullsh**, and I just think it’s bullsh** that we’ve got to deal with that policy,” he said during the Instagram Live stream. “Everyone thinks it’s about smoking weed. It’s not about smoking weed. It’s much bigger than that. Much, much bigger. Hell, I have concussions every day. I get to see around the office how that f—s your head up and I feel it.”
“How many NBA players you see getting in trouble about this? How many coaches you see get in trouble about this? How many baseball players get in trouble? How many UFC players getting in trouble? How many actors? Not many, but you do see us football players,” Irving said.
While some are saying that Irving is quitting the NFL solely because of it’s cannabis policy, he insists that is not the only reason.
“If I’m going to be addicted to something, I’d rather it be marijuana, which is medical,” Irving continued. “I do not consider it a drug, rather than the Xanax bars or the hydro[codone] or the Seroquel and all that crazy sh** that they feed you. Like I said, it ain’t about smoking weed.”
While his point is valid and worth noting, some criticize the way Irving went about delivering the message. It is possible that it could have been more well received by a larger audience if he had expressed his views in a different manner.
Irving has joined the ranks of so many other NFL players, both active and retired, who have spoken out in support of using cannabis to treat symptoms caused by injuries sustained during games, like concussions, muscle tears, and broken bones.
NFL players can only be drug tested from April through August. If a player does not fail his drug test the first time, it will be another year before he can be tested again. This is how some players are able to medicate with cannabis during the season, assuming they are able to pass the drug test the first time.
At only 25 years old, Irving was a promising player in the NFL when he was able to stay on the field. He made four tackles and one sack in the only two games he played for the Cowboys during the most recent season. The season before that, Irving sacked the quarterback seven times in eight games. He was about to become a free agent, but apparently he no longer has any interest in exploring his options with the NFL.
What will Irving do next if he isn’t going to play football? He says he has big plans for the future, and that they will be revealed soon enough. Perhaps Irving will follow in the footsteps of other ex-professional-athletes like Tiki Barber and Ricky Williams by launching his own cannabis brand or investing in an existing cannabis business.
Current National Football League regulations prevent even players living in states with legal medical marijuana from using the plant. Even though policies were loosened last year, consuming cannabis during the NFL season is still a violation of player contracts, and can lead to permanent termination and hefty fines both from the player’s team and from the organization at large.
While the NFL discourages use, many players have admitted to currently or previously using marijuana to help ease pain from the often debilitating, and sometimes permanent, injuries suffered during the course of their NFL career.
In recent months, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made statements that if the medical community produced evidence that medical marijuana was able to help players cope with injuries sustained during the game or was prescribed legally, he would consider lifting the ban on medical marijuana for players in the league. Now, as more states approve medical marijuana for sports related injuries, players have called for Goodell to make good on his promise to lift the ban.
As players have pointed out, there is substantial evidence to suggest that medical marijuana eases the pain of injuries and over 70% of the American public supports marijuana reform in the United States.
Just as Jake Plummer came forward last December, three former NFL players, Marvin Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita, made a public plea to Goodell, in a recent interview with Huffington Post, to reform the NFL’s marijuana policy.
The players call for reform in the NFL’s medical research funding policies to allocate additional money to marijuana research, as evidence suggests that marijuana may be useful in treating and even preventing brain damage while slowing the rate of onset of concussion-related symptoms.
As an organization whose livelihood depends on players putting themselves at risk for potentially life threatening injuries, Fujita, Washington and Ayanbadejo insist that the NFL’s anti-drug policies need updating to keep the players and game current.
As an organization that fosters role models for youth, the players believe that the NFL should not only take a stance on players’ uses of medical marijuana, but also widen the conversation about teenage marijuana use and education, as many players have influence on public opinion.
photo credit: cdn1
The marijuana policy reform movement has gained even more momentum, in the United States, since voters approved marijuana measures in two more states, a district, a U.S. territory and several municipalities on election day last week. The cannabis industry was already growing, as steps toward industry legitimization are being taken every day. Now, the industry has even more potential to explode into a cycle of exponential growth by the middle of 2015 because of an east coast company called KannaLife Sciences Inc., and one marijuana patent held by the federal government. KannaLife is working on the development of a cannabis-derived medicine that will help prevent treat, and even reverse brain injuries.
KannaLife was awarded an exclusive contract from a U.S. government agency to develop these cannabis-derived brain protecting products, under the marijuana patent, “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” which is held by the United States of America, and represented by agency of the Department of Health and Human Services called the National Institutes of Health. Earlier this year, a study published by The American Surgeon Journal, also, linked marijuana use to increased chances of surviving a brain injury.
In an interview with Fox News, Dean Petkanas, CEO of KannaLife Sciences explained,
“We’ve taken the pre-clinical approach so far, to date, on our first indication which is hepatic encephylopathy, which is a brain-liver disorder, where you do have neuronal degradation and degeneration, oxidative stress. So we felt that we could look at that in parallel with chronic traumatic encephylopathy, (CTE) another brain-related disease, and see if neuroprotection would indeed be afforded across that panel.”
Also according to Petkanas, KannaLife is hoping to have the cannabinoid therapy medicine patented and available by June 2015. The cannabinoid being used in for this program is cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid occurring naturally in marijuana. This is the same cannabinoid that has recently gained national attention for its hugely successful use in treating many medical conditions including epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimers, and more. This means that KannaLife’s cannabis therapy medication will not produce feelings of being “high” in players because the psychoactive cannabinoid THC will not be included.
To increase public awareness of the efforts, KannaLife has appropriately teamed up with ex-NFL player, Marvin Washington. Washington is part of the four-thousand-five-hundred person lawsuit, comprised of retired NFL players. The lawsuit participants claim that the NFL is, was, and has been aware of the detrimental, long-term effects on the brain caused by repetitive head injuries, and that the organization has chosen to purposely ignore this health risk.
Although the NFL did slightly ease up on it’s marijuana policy recently, commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS in October that it’s not changing the policy to include the use of medical marijuana because neither the league nor the union have been instructed to do so by medical staff, but it would be considered if it was recommended. Perhaps the product being developed by KannaLife Science will induce such a recommendation from the NFL medical staff. Many NFL players already used the plant for both medicinal and recreational purposes so it will be interesting to see how the organization’s drug policies change over the next few years as more and more medical uses are discovered for the cannabis plant.
Watch the video below to see what former defensive lineman Marvin Washington has to say about the cannabinoid therapy program, and why he thinks that the NFL needs to not only be following the science, but to be at the forefront of the development.
photo credit: amazonaws