It is undeniably clear that nearly all of the major professional sports leagues in the United States are uncomfortable with the use of medicinal cannabis by their players. Even in states where cannabis has been made legal, players are often denied access to medicinal cannabis because of league policies.
Time and time again we have seen players face wrongful cannabis suspensions for using a plant that they believe improves their quality of life.
Apparently, even professional golfers have to fear extensive league punishment for taking doctor recommended medical cannabis. Recently, two elite golfers, Matt Every and Robert Garrigus were suspended by the Professional Golfers Association, or PGA.
PGA Takes Action
Every and Garrigus were each handed 3-month suspensions by the PGA. That is now 3 months that both players will be without income due to the use of a substance that the PGA says violates their “policy for drugs of abuse.” However, both golfers said that they were not using cannabis recreationally. Instead, they were using cannabis recommended by a physician to treat sports related pain or mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
In a post-suspension statement, Every said that he was using “prescribed cannabis for a mental health condition” as recommended by his physician. Garrigus released a similar statement saying that he was using cannabis to treat back pain.
While Every and Garrigus said in statements that they understand PGA rules, they both wholeheartedly disagree with the association’s stance on medical cannabis. Garrigus did not hold back on calling out the antiquated rules of the PGA. He said, “If you have some sort of pain and CBD or THC may help that, and you feel like it can help you and be prescribed by a doctor, then what are we doing?”
The Potential For Sports and Cannabis
The outdated classification of cannabis by professional sports leagues is nonsensical. Cannabis is no longer just a recreational drug only consumed by stereotypical “stoners.” Instead it is a plant with a wide range of medicinal properties that is used by people of all backgrounds and demographics. Even with cannabis being banned in most professional sports leagues, players still consume it. There is a potential for professional sports leagues to change course and embrace the use of medical cannabis by their players. Players understand the potential cannabis has to keep them healthier and leagues should agree and permit its use.
Medical cannabis suspension does nothing but damage reputations and weaken relationships between leagues and their players. As in the case of golfers Matt Every and Robert Garrigus, cannabis suspensions do the opposite of what professional sports organizations would hope. The press generated from these suspensions damage the reputation of the league and make players weary of having a positive relationship with the organization they work for.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.