Retired NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, who played for the Portland Trailblazers for eight seasons (1989-1997), is using his retirement to take on stigmas around cannabis use. And he's doing it by launching "Uncle Spliffy" - the first brand to offer "Sports Cannabis," which the company is positioning as a special market separate from medical and recreational marijuana. This is cannabis "created for athletes, from athletes" according to the Oregon-based company's splash page, where you can sign up for updates as the brand gets ready to launch in the near future.
To find out more, we reached out to Robinson (also known by his nickname "Uncle Cliffy"). Here's what he had to say.
1. 'Sports cannabis' will help athletes stay active
According to Robinson, cannabis can be key to helping athletes maintain an active lifestyle. "Athletes and cannabis go hand-in-hand when you think about all the wear and tear that people put on their bodies, whether they're a professional athlete or not. I think cannabis products will definitely help anyone who lives an active lifestyle."
He plans to demonstrate the benefits of cannabis for athletes through his own example. When we asked how he planned to promote the product, Robinson said, "Just continuing to live an active lifestyle that's a cannabis-based lifestyle, that goes a long way...This is not talk. This is real for me."
2. Why Robinson is called 'Uncle Spliffy'
The name of the company is part of Robinson's efforts to transform negative stigmas surrounding cannabis. "It [the nickname] was actually given to me by Peter Vecsey of the New York Post. He was giving me a hard time for being suspended from the Blazers for a game [due to breaking the NBA's marijuana ban]. He decided to call me that. So really it's about taking something that has been a negative and turning it into a positive."
Vecsey's onboard with the rebranded nickname. ""He's been informed that I am using it, and he definitely got a kick out of it." But is he asking for royalties? "No, no, no no," Robinson laughed.
3. Cannabis is an alternative to prescription pills
The NBA ban on medical as well as recreational marijuana use is still in effect, but Robinson is advocating for the rule to change because cannabis can benefit players, teams and the league as a whole.
"Teams want to keep their players out on the court. And not all prescription drugs work for everyone. So I think they definitely need to look at alternative means to treat inflammation, muscle relaxation, things of that nature. So you have to look at CBD-based products to really give them [players] an opportunity."
4. 'Uncle Spliffy' plans to grow beyond Oregon
When "Uncle Spliffy" officially launches, it will start by focusing on getting a foothold in Oregon's marijuana market before expanding outside the Beaver State.
"Right now, we're a new company. We want to really get our foothold here in Oregon and build a good model here and try to jump that model into the different states. We will have an e-commerce store online where people will be able to buy hemp-based products and some apparel and some other things. But for right now - as far as cannabis-based products, we're looking here in Oregon."
But he added that he's looking into expanding the brand into other states and even into Canada, which the Buffalo, New York native considers a second home.
5. Will he sell a LeBron James strain?
For more from "Uncle Spliffy" (including the possibility of a LeBron James strain), listen to the full interview here:
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