Many celebrities get attention from the press for their advocacy of marijuana.
Willie Nelson. Whoopi Goldberg. Snoop Dogg, who is about as close as the celebrity world has to a face for the pro-marijuana movement.
But a little-known former National Football League player has launched a one-man crusade in favor of medical marijuana. His story combines not only the possible health benefits of marijuana but also a critique of the dangers of opioids and concerns about head injuries in the NFL.
Eugene Monroe Marijuana Advocate
Eugene Monroe was the first active NFL player to advocate for the use of medical marijuana among players and to argue against the use of opioids.
Jaguars and Ravens
Monroe played college football at the University of Virginia. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 in the first round. Experts considered him one of the best players to come out of the draft.
He spent four season with the Jaguars before traded to the Baltimore Ravens. During his time in Baltimore, Monroe suffered from a rash of injuries, including a concussion. The Ravens released him in 2016. While he received interest from other teams, Monroe decided to retire. His decision came partly because of concerns about health issues related to concussions.
During his playing career, Monroe became interested in the use of medical marijuana to combat pain as a replacement for opioids. He said as much while still playing with the Ravens.
When the Ravens cut him last year, Monroe speculated that it was because of his stance on marijuana. The team denies that is the case.
Eugene Monroe is the only active player to advocate the use of marijuana. However, retired players have done the same. They include former star running backs Ricky Williams and Franco Harris.
Monroe now has his own website, which advocates for the use of “cannabinoids for pain management and neuroprotection.”
“I’m calling for the NFL to remove marijuana from the banned substances list,” Monroe said on his site. He also is calling for the NFL to fund research into medical marijuana “especially as it relates to CTE.” CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition in which repeated head trauma leads to progressive brain tissue degeneration.
CTE can lead to memory loss, dementia, depression, impaired judgment, impulse-control problems and aggression.
Monroe also goes a step further, asking the NFL to “stop overprescribing addiction and harmful opioids.”
Since retirement, Monroe has stepped into the role of becoming one of the leading advocates for changing how the NFL treats pain management.
Monroe also has invested in marijuana businesses. He is a partner in Green Thumb Industries, a company that runs both grow houses and dispensaries.
Player safety remains his key issue. The NFL Players Association asked him to become a member of the NFLPA Pain Management Committee. He also serves as athlete ambassador for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. Further, he has co-authored the book, “Youth Sports Start Here: Everything You Need to Know About Promoting Health and Preventing Injury For Your Young Athlete.”
His goal is nothing short of changing NFL policy. His focus is not only on the use of medical marijuana, but the dangers of giving players opioids for pain.
He told the New York Times that “we now know” opioids lead to addiction and are not as safe as once thought. He added, “And we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and, quite frankly, can be better in managing pain.”