4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

BYKyle Rooney3.6K Views
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Ricky Williams
Current & former athletes who are spreading the benefits of marijuana.

When it comes to marijuana advocates in sports, the first person that probably comes to mind is former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. And while Ricky remains one of the most influential athletes in the wide world of marijuana, he is far from the only athlete who endorses it.

Several athletes, past and present, have spoken about the positives that come from cannabis and some have lobbied to lighten the punishment, or get rid of the ban altogether, in their respective sports. Former NBA player Al Harrington, who is among the athletes speaking out in support of pot, estimates that as many as 70% of athletes in major sports smoke weed. Recently retired NFL tight end Martellus Bennett told a Bleacher Report podcast earlier this month that he believes 89% of football players partake.

It's clear that there are a large number of athletes who endorse weed, whether it's as an alternative to pain killers or simply as a way to unwind, despite the fact that players run the risk of being suspended. As states across the country begin to legalize its use, athletes are playing a role in raising awareness of the positive qualities the cannabis plant.

Scroll down to check out how some current and former sports stars are trying to enlighten the world of the benefits of marijuana. 

Ricky Williams

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Since retiring from the NFL for good in 2012, Ricky Williams has continued to advocate for medical marijuana, and marijuana as a whole.

He has been involved in several pro-weed projects, including a new line of cannabis-based products called "Real Wellness by Ricky Williams." The company site reads, "Through our carefully chosen delivery methods of salves, tonics and vape cartridges, our products empower our clientele to harness the positive effects of herbs like cannabis in a more conscious and controlled way."

Additionally, Williams has worked with Weedmaps, a tech company that created an app to help uses locate medical marijuana dispensaries, and partnered with Jim McAlpine, the creator of the 420 Games, to co-found a cannabis-friendly gym in San Francisco called "Power Plant Fitness and Wellness."

Al Harrington

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Former NBA player Al Harrington began using CBD, a cannabis extract that is used to treat inflammation, while playing for the Denver Nuggets. Today, Harrington is the owner of a company called "Viola Extracts," which serves as a one-stop grower, distributing and selling to more than 30 legal marijuana stores around the country.

According to an NBA.com article, Viola is Harrington’s grandmother, and, as he describes it, his “guinea pig” in the struggle. When Viola Harrington’s glaucoma was eased by using medical marijuana a couple of years ago, Al Harrington became a true believer.

Eugene Monroe

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe called out the NFL while he was still in the league for allowing players to take addictive opioid pain killers but suspending them for smoking weed.

“We now know that these drugs are not as safe as doctors thought, causing higher rates of addiction, causing death all around our country,” Monroe said in a 2016 interview, according to the New York Times, “and we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and, quite frankly, can be better in managing pain.”

Monroe was released by the Ravens in 2016, which could have had something to do with his marijuana activism. After being cut, he released a statement that read, “I will never stop pushing for the League to accept medical cannabis as a viable option for pain management.” He ultimately retired from football that year, citing injuries and a reluctance to continue taking pills to stay in the league. 

His website calls for the NFL "to remove marijuana from the banned substance list; fund medical marijuana research, especially as it relates to CTE; and stop overprescribing addictive and harmful opioids."

Nick & Nate Diaz

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

UFC's Diaz brothers aren't shy about their cannabis use even though it is by USADA. In fact, Nate Diaz once showed up to a post-fight press conference taking pulls from a vape pen, which he admitted was a cannabidiol oil aka CBD.

"It's CBD," Diaz said at the time. "It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It'll make your life a better place.”

Nate's brother, Nick, has also expressed the benefits of marijuana. On top of the relief it provides, Nick went as far as to say marijuana is a "performance enhancing drug."

"I'd like to start shedding some light on this stigma that people that smoke weed are lazy or that they're not thinkers or something," said Nick during an appearance on The Jasta Show in 2016. "It's really limiting to die without ever smoking weed or indulging in some way because my grandfather died and I don't think he ever. And, I feel some type of way about that. I hate to see my grandmother go out the same way but I don't know if I ever see talking any sense into these old people. They don't understand it.

"The thing is, once you've actually gone down that road, then you've subjected yourself to the other side of things and you've gotta start to see perspectives and just not limiting yourself to understanding those perspectives is a really big thing to me. Limiting yourself, in general, is a really big thing to me. Becoming conditioned and limiting yourself, it screws with me."

Nick Diaz was suspended from the UFC for a year for missing three out-of-competition drug tests within a 12-month span, but he regained eligibility yesterday and has hinted at returning to the sport.

Kyle Turley

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

During his 10 seasons as an NFL offensive lineman, Kyle Turley estimates that he suffered 100-plus concussions and was later diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

As many former NFL players can attest to, Turley struggled with an addiction to pain killers and suffered from suicidal thoughts. That is, until he began taking medical marijuana.

“It saved my life,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today, I would not have my family, my kids, my house, everything I have right now, if not for cannabis.” To help save other lives, Turley founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition to use his story and those of other players to advance the idea of marijuana as a valid medicine for neurological conditions and other athletic injuries. “This plant has to be set free,” he says. “We have people committing suicide in football and other sports. How far do we have to go?”

Turley now operates Neuro XPF which sells products that have shown the effectiveness of CBD backed by research. Neuro XPF removes any trace of THC and reintroduces the plant’s natural terpenes and other valuable cannabinoids to provide the most powerful CBD products on the market.

Bill Walton

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Nowadays Bill Walton is known as the spacey color commentator who never fails to mix in a comment about volcanoes, the universe or The Grateful Dead, during Pac-12 basketball games. But he was once an athlete, and a former NBA MVP at that. As such, he is a more than worthy addition to this list of pro-marijuana advocates in sports.

Walton has expressed his love for weed on several occasions during broadcasts, including ESPNU’s “ESPN Voices” broadcast during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. 

— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 10, 2017

Jake Plummer

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Former QB Jake Plummer is another former NFL player who suffered some brutal hits during his 10-year career and is now preaching the use of marijuana to help ease the pain.

In fact, the benefits he has experienced from cannabis were so great that he considered coming out of retirement 10 years after he walked away from the NFL.

"I’m 41 and the Broncos need a new quarterback," Plummer said during a 2016 interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio that. "I’m not thinking about it but the thought crossed my mind because my body feels great after playing for 10 years in the league and being retired.

"I owe a lot of that to CBD and what it’s done for me."

According to High Times, Plummer was one of several former NFL players who signed an open letter from Doctors for Cannabis Regulation in 2016 that called on the league to change its policy on marijuana. He also helped raise funds for "When The Bright Lights Fade" which is a campaign that explores how CBD can help treat and prevent the onset of symptoms associated with CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] and traumatic brain injury. 

Lamar Odom

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Lamar Odom addiction with drugs and alcohol has been well documented. Following his near-fatal overdose, the former NBA star says cannabis helped him break his crack addiction and led him to team up with a company that supplies organically grown, pesticide-free cannabis.

"While going through rehab, I discovered certain strains (of marijuana) that support wellness," Odom said in the release. "So I decided to team up with Camp Green, a company that supplies organically grown, pesticide-free cannabis."

Odom's business, Rich Soil Organics, will open later this year in California and provide products that he believes can help others.

Cliff Robinson

4/20: Biggest Marijuana Advocates In The Sports World

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Clifford Robinson was suspended on three different occasions for using marijuana while he was in the NBA. Once he retired from the league in 2007, he became an advocate for marijuana legalization.

In an interview with WW in 2016, Robinson said he used marijuana as a way to combat his anxiety.

"I had a little anxiety sometimes. I definitely didn't like pharmaceutical drugs, as far as how they made my stomach feel, so I would use [marijuana]. But you couldn't be really consistent with cannabis use, because of the way they tested," he told WW. "I put myself in a position where I had to be taken off the court, which you're never proud of. But at the same time, I did feel that cannabis was helpful for me. I took the risk."

Last year, Robinson lobbied with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to support a bill that would allow social consumption of cannabis in Oregon. He has since established "Uncle Cliffy," which promotes how well cannabis works for medical and wellness purposes, and offers a line of "Uncle Spliffy" products that can be found at select Oregon cannabis retailers.

“I have seen the failures of cannabis prohibition in Connecticut firsthand,” Robinson said in a statement. “Cannabis prohibition disproportionately harms minority communities wherever prohibition exists, and Connecticut is no exception. The citizens of the great State of Connecticut deserve a better policy like the one that the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is proposing. Other states have made similar moves with great success. Legalization clearly works and it’s beyond time for the Connecticut Legislature to step up and do what is right.”

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<b>Sports &amp; Sneakers Writer</b> <!--BR--> New York born and raised. Long-suffering Knicks, Mets &amp; Jets fan who fell in love with sneakers when Allen Iverson laced up the 11s at Georgetown. Commissioner of one of the premier fantasy football leagues in the USA.