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These Retired Pros Are Challenging Medical Marijuana Bans In The NBA And NFL

Like a number of former pro athletes, retired NBA player Jay WIlliams - a former Chicago Bulls point guard and NCAA sensation for Duke - is starting a new career as a medical marijuana advocate. In an interview with FOX Business, Williams took on the NBA's ban on marijuana. The irony of the league's drug policy, Williams says, is that the NBA lets players take highly addictive opioids, but marijuana is prohibited because of the misbelief that it could lead to harder drugs - like opioids:

"It's easy for doctors to prescribe you Oxycontin and look, I was addicted to it for five plus years so I know," Williams said. "But when you say marijuana you get a reaction, 'Ahhh, it's a gateway drug'."

He's not arguing that players should mess up their game by smoking a joint before tip-off. He's advocating for CBD-rich cannabis oil, which doesn't make players high - unlike opioids:

"I know so many athletes that play on Percocet. Have you ever taken Percocet by the way? It makes you way more groggy than rubbing cannabis oil into your skin," noted Williams. "It's demonized in society too. Oh, he's a pot head. No, I actually just use cannabis oil because it helps with inflammation and takes away some anxiety."

Williams joins a number of retired players who have recently launched careers as medical marijuana advocates. Here's who they are and what they've said.

Cliff Robinson: Marijuana is the best medicine for athletes

The former All-Star center for the Portland Blazers told the Portland Business Journal that marijuana is simply a better form of medicine than prescription pills:

"Cannabis is definitely a more positive alternative to pharmaceuticals. Those are synthetics. I'm talking about something that's natural that can bring the outcomes you're looking for, be it for muscle tension or relaxation or preparedness. There are a whole lot of different things that are beneficial."

Robinson's post-NBA career involves being a marijuana advocate and entrepreneur. In January 2016, the player nicknamed "Uncle Cliffy" announced he would be launching the "Uncle Spliffy" brand of what he calls "marijuana designed for athletes."

Kyle Turley: Marijuana could save football

In an interview with Freedom Leaf, the former St. Louis Rams offensive tackle said that marijuana could save football, which is mired in controversies surrounding the physical toll that the sport takes on players:

"I suffer from traumatic brain injury from playing this sport. I've seen this firsthand in multiple scans of my brain. I understand that it's an occupational hazard...If we want to save football, then we've got to start looking at solutions, not just count concussions. Cannabis is that potential savior. Seventy percent or more of the players use cannabis in the NFL today, because they know it works."

Nate Jackson: Half of the NFL already uses marijuana

The former Denver Broncos tight end says the NFL says marijuana is "already keeping the game afloat."

"Players need medication, like it or not, to go back on the field every week," Jackson told The Guardian. "Marijuana's already keeping the game afloat. Roughly half of those guys are already using it every week. They have to keep it a secret, though. If they get caught they get fined or suspended. It's a really uncompassionate stance to take."

Jim McMahon: America needs to get over the stigma of marijuana

At the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo in February 2016, the former Chicago Bears quarterback said that America needs to get over the stigma around marijuana:

"I've never had any side effects from smoking herb or even the edibles....It's a medicinal herb. It's not a drug. When we get over the stigma of that, I think we'll be better off in this country."

Jake Plummer: Active players need to become advocates

To pressure the major leagues to consider changing their marijuana policies, the former Denver Broncos quarterback has called on active players to speak out.

"We need more guys like Eugene Monroe to take a stand on this and say, 'If you really care about us, you should seriously look at this and consider the effects it can have,'" Plummer said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "It's really for everybody, not just football players."

h/t FOX Sports


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