As more studies come out showing the dangers of opioid abuse, as well as more horror stories from people who've become addicted to painkillers, professional athletes have begun speaking out about the health crises facing their sports. And one solution to their problems that many are advocating for is marijuana.
The Cannabis World Congress and Business Exhibition gathered a group of professional athletes to discuss their opinions on marijuana. The group included UFC fighter Frank Shamrock, NBA star Cliff Robinson, NFL player Eben Britton and the NHL’s Darren McCarty. Britton is one of the co-founders Athletes for Care, a nonprofit backed by professional athletes that advocates for medical marijuana legalization.
“The underlying message is, hey, it’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle, and be a healthy person, and still use cannabis,” says Ryan Kingsbury, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We’re attempting to move past the antiquated stereotypes of stoners sitting on a couch watching cartoons all day.”
For professional athletes, marijuana can help treat a number of conditions developed over the course of their careers. It can be used to help deal with chronic pain and inflammation, while also helping treat depression and other mood disorders commonly found in former players with brain injuries. A recent study found that professional athletes are four times more likely to abuse painkillers and opioids than the general population.
The NFL and NBA have made statements in recent months indicating they may be open to allowing players to use medical marijuana. But until those statements become actions, athletes will still be forced to take far dangerous drugs while a perfectly safe alternative exists.