Puff, Pass, Touchdown
Drugs and sports don’t mix.
From the time we’re young and in school, we are taught to say no to drugs at all costs, and athletes are under special scrutiny to avoid drugs and substances that may impact their performance both positively and negatively.
However, times are changing across the United States, and the drug culture that was once vilified by regimes and leaders like President Nixon is now gaining more acceptance and momentum. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, and the use of recreational marijuana is legal in three states, as well as in Washington D.C.
As per a report on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel in 2014, some 50-60% of NFL players used marijuana regularly both for recreational purposes and for pain management. With more critical reports being released about the toll years of football can take on players’ bodies and brains, could accepted marijuana use be the solution to dealing with the health crisis?
This player is crusading for the cause.
Meet Eugene Monroe
Drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the 2009 Draft, Monroe was later traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, where he has been playing ever since.
The offensive tackle is 29 and hails from Plainfield, New Jersey, and he is one of the NFL’s biggest advocates to legalize marijuana usage. Yet Monroe’s dedication to the cause goes far beyond Twitter rants: the player donates to research and uses awareness to prove to the NFL that medical marijuana is a healthier alternative to opioid painkillers.
He writes on his website, “On March 9, 2016, I became the first active NFL player to openly advocate for the use of cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and sports-related injuries. It’s time for the NFL to change its archaic standards to better protect its players and set an example for our young athletes (high school athletes are more commonly using drugs than their peers and football players are most likely to use drugs). For too long, I’ve watched my teammates and good friends battle with opioid addiction and leave the game with a long road still ahead; it’s time to make a change.”
Life With Marijuana
Monroe is proud of his relationship with cannabis. He started smoking with friends and teammates as a teenager and found that weed helped him relax and focus in school; he believes he had undiagnosed ADHD as a child.
He also recounts that both in college and professionally, he and fellow teammates would use marijuana recreationally to relax and find a sense of peace after practice and outside of game time. Medical marijuana is legal in Maryland, where Monroe currently lives.
Now, Monroe is unashamed to be a very vocal advocate for cannabis in the NFL. In March, he attracted some attention for a Twitter rant directed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the league’s “archaic” policy on marijuana, calling him out for permitting the NFL to have such major alcohol sponsorships while ignoring the research indicating the positive effects marijuana might have on pain treatment.