When it comes to the issue of pot and the NFL, former Jets defensive end and cannabis entrepreneur Marvin Washington says commissioner Roger Goodell and the league keep “saying the same bullsh– lines.”
“Excuse me, they’re saying the same lines,” Washington says with a smile. “If you look at Roger Goodell, every time he’s asked about (the marijuana issue) he always says, ‘We’re taking recommendations of our medical doctors.’ Well Roger, we don’t want to follow the science. We want you to lead the science.”
Washington, 51, was speaking on a panel that was part of the “Cultural Diversity in the Cannabis Industry” summit held at John Jay College Friday, and the still fearsome-looking Washington addressed an audience about the NFL’s need to embrace the cannabis movement, and pour money into research of marijuana. Washington thinks marijuana is a much safer alternative to addictive painkillers.
“It’s a collision sport,” Washington says, referring to the NFL, where he played for 11 seasons. “They have a safety issue in their game. I don’t want to kill football. I just want to make it safer and I believe we have something that can make it safer.”
Washington co-founded Isodiol Performance, a company that makes THC-free hemp sports drink products. But he’s also a bold-face name in a growing movement to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. He adds that when he started getting calls from former NFL players interested in his post-football business pursuits, he was often asked if he had reached out to the NFL to discuss the pot industry.
“I’m not going to approach the NFL,” Washington says. “I’ve been around the NFL 30 years. I know how they operate. Whenever there’s a safety issue in an industry, it’s always the union that initiates the safety initiatives.” Washington says he has had constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association about the marijuana industry, and he thinks changes are on the horizon, that it’s not a question of if but when. He points out that therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) are granted for NFL players for drugs like Adderall. Why not grant TUEs for cannabis?
During an interview with NFL senior vice president of health and safety Jeff Miller last year, the league executive was asked about the NFL funding research for marijuana. “We’re going to be driven by what the experts tell us,” Miller said then. “If we got to that place where we all thought it worth investing scientific dollars, then we would follow that. We’re not there now.”
Washington says his frustration with the NFL’s stance has persisted for years.
“If the NFL got behind this, this would go a long way to breaking down the walls and barriers that are there,” says Washington. “Not only in society, but in sports leagues. I know marijuana is not the problem in the NFL. I know what the problem is — it’s concussions and opiate addiction.”
Talk-show host Montel Williams, a keynote speaker at the summit Friday, says that Washington is one of the board members for Williams’ company, LenitivLabs, which produces medical cannabis products. Williams says “this is not fake news” that cannabis products can be a safe alternative for treating numerous health ailments, including multiple sclerosis. Williams suffers from the disease and uses cannabis products to “stay ahead of the pain.”
“Instead of taking (painkillers), I can do this,” says Williams. “It helps keep it in check.”
Washington says by the time the league and the union reopen the collective bargaining agreement, he’s hoping that pot will be at the top of the agenda when the two sides begin negotiating.
“I want to change the stigma of this plant,” says Washington. “I know it can help.”