Mike James played for the Detroit Lions last season. The former Miami Hurricanes running back, a sixth-round pick in 2013, has had multiple stints with both the Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
James, currently a free agent, applied last month for a therapeutic-use exemption for marijuana to manage his pain. The 27-year-old views marijuana as a safe alternative to painkillers. The NFL, however, has rejected James’ request. James explained the situation in an interview with NJ.com.
“I know right now I’m doing something that makes some people uncomfortable, and that I’m going against the establishment to push for a change in the way they look at this medicine,” James said. “I know there’s a greater purpose here for a lot of guys in this league who I consider family members.”
He told CNN he began popping painkillers in 2013 after injuring his ankle and being prescribed opioids. He developed a dependence, and his wife encouraged him to try weed. His pain quickly subsided.
“I didn’t want to believe the benefits,” James said. “But at that point, I was in so much pain and going through a lot mentally with the demands in the game, I tried it. It gave me instant relief.”
His discovery is unsurprising to those familiar with the scientific literature about cannabis, but the league, which has long stood in opposition of marijuana, has denied his request.
“I hear it all the time from retired players who say, ‘I was so scared to say something when I was playing,'” James said. “We are the engine that drives this league. If we can’t get onto the field with a less harmful medicine and we can’t live our life after football, how are we going to tell our kids to play this game?”
Does anyone outside of the league office disagree with this guy? Can we please protect the athletes putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment? Come on, NFL.