Former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson believes the league will have no choice but to allow players to use marijuana, and remove it from its list of banned substances.
Jackson spoke at a marijuana business conference and said the league should allow players to use medical marijuana as a means to help players deal with the physical and psychological pain.
“Michael Phelps is the best swimmer that the Earth has ever produced by far. And he smokes weed,” Jackson said, via The Associated Press. “That should tell us something.”
Jackson said he self-medicated with marijuana during his playing days to avoid opiate painkillers as much as he could. He said he didn’t want to retire addicted to prescription drugs like so many other players.
“It kept my brain clean,” Jackson said Wednesday during the Cannabis Business Executives Breakfast.
“I feel like I exited the game with my mind intact. And I credit that to marijuana in a lot of ways and not getting hooked on these pain pills that are recklessly distributed in the league when a guy gets an injury,” Jackson said.
Since players are only tested for street drugs once a year, Jackson believes most NFL players use marijuana.
“They’re aware that probably over half of their players smoke weed. They’ve been doing it since they were teenagers. The fact that they’ve been doing it that whole time and still made it to the NFL and are able to satisfy the demands of very, very strict employers on a daily basis means that their marijuana use is in check,” Jackson said. “Marijuana is not a problem in their lives.”
The real danger is that they’re “smashing their skulls over and over and over again,” he said. “And as long as we as fans or the media love this game and want this game to continue and want our players to play hard, we have to open up our minds and be a little bit more compassionate about how we approach their health care.”
League spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press on Wednesday: “At this time, the medical advisers to our drug program tell us that there is no need for medical marijuana to be prescribed to an NFL player.”
Jackson said he never used marijuana before games or practices, but he would afterward to recover. He also said marijuana would help him hone his craft because he would visualize successful play while high.
“I consider it a performance-inspiring drug,” Jackson said.