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If the halftime show for Super Bowl LVI was any indication, it may not be long until the traditionally conservative NFL officially embraces cannabis culture along with hip-hop. In a recent interview with WSB-TV in Atlanta, Tavarres King, a former wide receiver for Tampa Bay and New York, suggested that “around 80%” of NFL players use cannabis.

In the interview, King said “playing with it, laser-sharp. I was laser-sharp, laser-focused.” And he’s far from the only former NFL player with such an admission. Three years ago, Martellus Bennett, former tight end for Green Bay and New England, made waves when he was asked the same question on a podcast and estimated that about 89% of players use weed. He went on to say that most use it for medical reasons, as “there are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad, and you don’t want to be popping pills all the time.

While the NBA, NHL and MLB have been more tolerant of cannabis use, the NFL has long been a harsh disciplinarian for players found using it. However, this began to change with the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement that eliminated testing for THC between April and August, and raised the threshold for positive drug tests during the season from 35 nanograms to 150 nanograms. In addition, players will no longer be suspended for positive tests.

Last year the NFL and NFLPA announced the creation of a Joint Pain Management Committee that will be contributing $1 million dollars to the University of California San Diego and to Canada’s University of Regina toward research into pain management and alternative therapies for their athletes — including the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. While current NFL players will not be involved in the studies, due to cannabis still officially off-limits in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, elite athletes are taking part.

What’s more, the list of retired NFL players entering the cannabis business continues to grow. Some of the players who are active as marketers, endorsers and/or investors include Tiki Barber, Terrell Davis, Calvin Johnson, Eugene Monroe, Joe Montana, Carson Palmer, Rob Sims, Marvin Washington and Ricky Williams. And last year at this time, former Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch made news by launching his own premium cannabis product line called Dodi Blunts, marketed as a “the highest, richest potency from palm leaf-wrapped blunts infused with THCA diamonds presented in a reusable blunt tube.” (Editor’s Note: THCA “diamonds” are small crystals of concentrated cannabis that are semi-transparent and look like gemstones — so don’t make the mistake that certain news organizations erroneously made on-air, reporting that Lynch’s blunts actually contained real diamonds!)

Image courtesy of MaryJanesHQ.com