Article by James McClure, Civilized
While the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons line up this weekend to fight for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 51, the behind-the-scenes fight for the players’ rights to use marijuana medicinally continues. Retired players like Eugene Monroe argue that cannabis is a safer and more effective treatment for game-related injuries than NFL-approved prescription painkillers that can lead to opiate addiction. But the NFL still prohibits players form using cannabis medicinally or recreationally.
But players like Monroe are getting backup from the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition — a marijuana advocacy group speaking up for athletes. We spoke to Michael Cindrich — co-founder of GCC — ahead of Super Bowl 51 to find out what why players want to use medical marijuana and what it’ll take for the NFL to lift its cannabis ban.
Here are the highlights from our chat.
For people who aren’t familiar with your group, could you give me a quick rundown of what the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition is?
Sure, we’re an organization that’s dedicated to advancing medical cannabis as a treatment option for current and former NFL players. Our platform is focused on education and treatment. And really what we’ve been doing is having active and retired players get together and come out of the closet regarding their medical marijuana use — while they were playing or during their post-career.
Do you think that the NFL is a safe place for an active player to stand up and speak out on cannabis? It seems like a risky thing to do given rumors that Eugene Monroe was cut from the Baltimore Ravens for becoming a cannabis advocate.
I think that they do face potential repercussions. It’s a very sensitive issue. Teams in general don’t want distractions in the locker room. If you have players openly coming forward and basically calling the league out on its failure to allow this legitimate medicine for its players, it’s a potential distraction. And often times coaches and owners don’t want that. So it can absolutely have an adverse impact on the player.