Legal marijuana has gained traction with a majority of Americans. However, not so much with officials at the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (better known as NASCAR).
Officials there this month forced driver Carl Long to drive the entire Go Bowling 400 NASCAR race at the Kansas City Motor Speedway with no logo on his hood. It was an unusual thing in a sport where drivers paste their cars with sponsor logos that include alcohol, soda, and energy drinks.
Why? Because Long wanted to drive with the logo of his sponsor, Colorado-based vaping company Veedverks.
NASCAR: Approved, Then Disapproved
Long apparently won the right to use the logo at first. NASCAR officials thought Veedverks was an e-cigarette company, according to what company officials said, and approved the logo.
NASCAR denies they ever approved the logo.
What’s clear is that when Long was on the track during practice laps the day before for the race. Then, NASCAR officials had him remove the logo from his No. 66 Chevrolet and race with no logo on the car’s hood.
In a press release on the incident, Veedverks said NASCAR officials made the decision “at the last minute without reimbursement or apology.” Veedverks CEO Travis Lippert said the veteran-owned, small business was “severely damaged” by the decision but stayed on as Long’s chief sponsor.
“We are still his primary sponsor,” Veedverks later said on its Facebook page. “We just weren’t on the hood during the race. We are part of NASCAR history whether they like it or not.”
Veedverks even held a photo caption contest through their Facebook page. The contest asked people to photo shop something onto Long’s hood after NASCAR “won’t even let us substitute another company in Veedverks’ place.”
Long later said that the situation may have been caused by him spelling the name of the company incorrectly in his submission of his sponsor’s name to NASCAR.
While they apparently were removed from the car’s hood because of potential controversy surrounding legalized marijuana, Veedverks is actually a hemp company that primarily sells vapes. Hemp produces cannabinols that have medical purposes but produce no high.
However, the incident shows that no matter how popular the legalization of marijuana has become, it still has a long way to go before gaining acceptance in professional sports.
Despite admissions from former NFL and NBA players and coaches about the use of marijuana to deal with chronic pain – and as a replacement for opioids – major professional sports have not yet taken a less restrictive stand on marijuana.
However, there is growing movement to have major sports league at least reconsider policies that ban marijuana use. Even influential NFL owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys has asked that the NFL drop its prohibition against marijuana use.