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Retired NBA Players Explain Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized

Proposition 64 supporter and former NBA forward, Al Harrington, came into the spotlight last month with a new video explaining why he supports the legalization of marijuana.



After seeing the healing affects medical marijuana had on his grandmother, Al Harrington decided to see for himself if it would work for him. After a leg surgery, staff infection and sickness he said “enough” to painkillers and “why not” to marijuana. He tried the popular Black Oil Pill, a CBD only medication that reduces pain and inflammation.

“I felt good,” said Al Harrington. “When you’re playing, you obviously can’t jump out there and say you’re doing all that type of stuff. But I’m living proof that you can manage pain without all the pharmaceuticals. You do have an alternative method to take care of yourself. And, to me, [it’s] a more natural way.”

He is not the only former NBA player to do so. John Salley, a four-time NBA champion also has expressed his feelings towards marijuana legalization. Saying he is in favor of it, especially if doing so benefits athletes.

Like many players, John Salley was hesitant to smoke the substance because he was led to believe that it would affect his ability to play ball and that it was bad for his body and mind.

“I didn’t smoke marijuana until I was 36. I was one of those guys,” Salley Said. “And then I did the research.”

Salley, like many athletes, was generally led to believe that pharmaceuticals and opiate based medications are better for treating pain than marijuana. The long standing stigma of marijuana is still alive in the NBA making it difficult for players, past and present, to decide whether the alternative medicine works for them or not.

Earlier this year, NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, faced criticism when he came forward in support of ResponsibleOhio, an organization that hoped to legalize marijuana in Ohio. The former NBA player had surgery a few years back after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was supportive of the organization because of the medical benefits from marijuana.

“It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition — I know from personal experience,” Robertson said.

For the time being, most athletes can not afford to be publicly associated with marijuana because it is still on the banned substance list. Retired NBA player, Cliff Robinson, is no stranger to the repercussions from using the substance. He was suspended twice for marijuana use during his NBA career and is now a popular cannabis advocate.

“People in Oregon know me as a basketball player,” Robinson told the Portland Business Journal. “But I want to distill the stigma around cannabis, the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible.”

“When you talk about guys playing a professional level, there’s a lot of physical and mental stress that comes with that,” he said. “To have something available to you that has health benefits, I don’t see the issue with it myself.”

Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in Oregon, Washington D.C., Alaska, Washington, and Colorado. It has also been made legal in one form or another medically in 25 states with many others looking to legalize this month.

As more and more states legalize marijuana, more and more people are becoming aware of the medical benefits marijuana and its use for pain treatment. The states whom have legalized marijuana for pain treatment have seen an overall decrease in opiate deaths and a lethal drug overdose from marijuana has yet to be recorded.


Unlike opioids, marijuana also treats nausea, a common side effect of cancer treatments. It also helps to stimulate the appetite, so it is useful for patients whom are extremely ill and have lost a lot of weight from a lack of appetite.

With marijuana increasingly being legalized, studies will become easier and better. It will take more research to determine what types of pain medical marijuana can treat but having an open dialogue with your doctor about treatment is the best way to decide what medicine is best for you.

In conclusion, we ask that you voice your support of marijuana to your friends and family, research the benefits of medical marijuana if you have doubts, and if you live in the state of California, go out and vote yes on Proposition 64 this November 8th.

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