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It’s no secret that many athletes are coming out in support of cannabis – advocates from the world of professional running, swimming, football, and other sports are coming forward every day in some form, many of them with personal stories of how cannabis has helped or could help them be better athletes. When The Bright Lights Fade, Charlotte’s Web Botanicals’ campaign to aid cannabis and CTE research for NFL players, and Ricky Williams’ recent Golf Invitational for cannabis reform are just a few examples of this new type of cannabis support and research that will be greatly enhanced when the federal government revises prohibition-era laws and regulations. Some athletes (former Denver football players Jake Plummer and Nate Jackson, Eugene Monroe, and Ricky Williams) have made it clear that they believe in the power of cannabis to heal and prevent injury, and have stepped forward to speak to the people about the alternative to intense and disruptive painkillers and other medications.

The NFL & Cannabis

As I’m sure we all recall, marijuana possession and usage used to be one of the top ten reasons that NFL players were suspended from play, or ejected from the NFL entirely, ruining their careers and causing heartbreak among their fans. These days, even CNN is reporting on the benefits of cannabis for players multiple injuries and severe head trauma suffered while playing. This is the NFL’s policy on consumption of cannabis by its professional players in 2015 (yes, it’s 44 pages long, so just believe me when I say it prohibits all types of cannabis use, medical or otherwise). According to Eugene Monroe, who recently retired from the Ravens at the tender age of 29 and has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis, the sport of football is “very demanding…it’s taken a toll on my time and time again.” Monroe missed several games due to concussion recently, and reportedly turned down various offers by teams other than the Ravens.

Ricky Williams & Cannabis

Sports Illustrated’s cover story on Ricky Williams, Heisman Trophy-winner, focuses on the former football player’s lifetime cannabis use and his current cannabis ventures, all while detailing Williams’ “path” to being an outspoken cannabis activist and what that means when 20 NFL teams play in legalized states. According to SI, who interviewed Williams while he was at Spannibis in Barcelona, Spain, Williams traveled among the various stalls inquiring on behalf of his NFL brothers who suffer from chronic pain and depression just as he does.  Ricky Williams’ negative association with cannabis a decade ago led to his leaving the NFL and traveling the world instead – and now that reputation has become a positive one for both him and the players he is trying to help.

What Williams is Doing with Cannabis

Williams guessed that 60-70% of NFL players consume cannabis when the annual testing isn’t underway, many as an alternative to dangerously addictive opioids and other painkillers. Williams also owns San Francisco’s only cannabis-friendly gym with Jim McAlpine, the creator of the 420 Games; it’s called Power Plant Fitness and Wellness and Williams hopes it will be the beginning the other sports-themed cannabis social clubs called “34.” His previous jersey number was 34. Williams is also working with Weedmaps, basically as a company spokesperson with an in to the sports industry. I encourage Williams and other athletes to speak out about their cannabis consumption, and particularly the injuries and issues that it helps them with – the NFL may be a good ol’ boys club, but change is inevitable, and the players deserve to be as healthy and happy as they can be.

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