As professional and amateur sports leagues slowly begin to change their rules on cannabis use, more athletes are speaking out about their appreciation for cannabis. Some have actually signed sponsorship deals with cannabis providers, while others use the freedom that comes with being retired to raise their voices. Here’s a look at some of the more prominent names associated with marijuana in sports.
Ricky Williams (football)
Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL running back Ricky Williams famously announced his (temporary) retirement from football after testing positive for marijuana in 2004. Now fully retired, Williams opened up about his marijuana use to Sports Illustrated in 2016. (AP Photo/Adam Nadel) Nick Diaz (mixed martial arts)
Mixed martial artist Nick Diaz, seen here in a 2011 fight in San Jose, became an unwitting poster boy for cannabis when a positive drug test got him a five-year suspension from UFC — even though his opponent, Anderson Silva, faced only a one-year suspension after being caught with three different steroids in his system. Diaz told High Times in a 2015 interview that “if I’m going to train all day, when I get done, I’m gonna want to smoke.” (Jim Gensheimer/Cannifornian) Kyle Turley (football)
Former NFL lineman Kyle Turley is unambiguous about his support for cannabis: It’s “is better than any psych medication that I’ve ever been given, period. It deals with my pain, it deals with my stress, and it deals with my CTE.” (AP Photo/James A. Finley) Jim McMahon (football)
Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon, famous for his spiky hair and unique style in his playing days, told the Chicago Tribune last year that medical marijuana had been a “godsend” to him, helping get him off a habit of 100 Percoset tablets a month. (AP Photo) Rob Van Dam (pro wrestling)
Former WWE champion Rob Van Dam told the Washington Post in 2016 that “If I want to relax and just chill out, consuming cannabis can help with that. If I want to be active, if I’m going to go work out or have a match, then it can help with that, too.”(Eugene H. Louie/Cannifornian archive) Bill Walton (basketball)
Retired basketball star Bill Walton has never publicly acknowledged using marijuana. He does wear an above-average amount of tie dye and loves the Grateful Dead, though. Early this year, he was seen on video at the end of an ESPN commercial break, saying “marijuana should not be a Schedule 1 drug, and all the people who have been in trouble for it for all these years … just blanket amnesty, and let’s move on to the future.” For bonus points, he did it while wearing an Uncle Sam costume. (AP Photo, File) Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts)
Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey wasn’t shy in leaping to the defense of fellow fighter Nick Diaz after his suspension, saying “I’m against them testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug, it has nothing to do with the competition and it’s only because of political reasons.” (AP Photo/John Locher) Ross Rebagliati (snowboarding)
Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati won a gold medal, then had it stripped away after he tested positive for marijuana, then had it reinstated. Since those fateful days in the late ’90s, Rebagliati has gone on to found his own medical cannabis firms, Ross’ Gold. (AP Photo/CP, Paul Chiasson) Jake Plummer (football)
Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer, who endured years of punishing tackles by defensive players, has become an outspoken advocate for cannabis since his retirement. Appearing at the Cannabis World Expo, Plummer told the audience that “the game (of football) isn’t getting any safer. Players shouldn’t be punished for wanting a healthier option (for pain management).” (Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Riley Cote (hockey)
Former Philadelphia Flyer Riley Cote, left, said he was introduced to cannabis in his teens, but didn’t fully appreciate is potential for pain relief until he began his hockey career. Since retiring, Cote has started the Hemp Heals Foundation, which seeks to “educate, inspire and empower” people about cannabis’ benefits. (Jim Gensheimer/Cannifornian) Floyd Landis (cycling)
Floyd Landis’ most high-profile experience with drugs didn’t involve marijuana. Seen here with team partner Lance Armstrong, left, Landis was found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs and stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. He strenuously fought the charges before later admitting to drug use and quitting cycling. Last year, he founded Floyd’s of Leadville, a line of CBD-only cannabis products. (AP Photo/Miguel Riopa) Nate Jackson (football)
Former NFL tight end Nate Jackson said in a New York Times op-ed that many NFL players are not only familiar with marijuana, but most prefer it to traditional pain medications. “The fact that they made it to the N.F.L. at all means that their marijuana use is under control,” he said. (Jamie Schwaberow/Cannifornian archive) Tanner Hall (freestyle skiing)
Freestyle skier Tanner Hall is sponsored by Mary’s Medicinals; while many say cannabis shouldn’t be banned because it’s not a performance-enhancing drug, Hall claims the opposite. ““It helps with the stress, with the anxiety,” he told the New Yorker in 2016. “And then, afterwards, as a relaxing agent and pain reliever.” (Cristophe Simon/Getty Images)
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