Opinion: Athletes should be allowed to use marijuana

Societal views on the drug are beginning to change

By Jenny Mosley

As society’s view on marijuana have begun to change, the drug use has become more popular across all age groups. As of 2016, 26 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.

Between the years of 2013-2014, about 19 percent of 18-25 year olds, the average age of college students and first-year pro athletes, have used marijuana. Weed has become staple in lives of many, including athletes.

Beside the pros, NCAA research shows that in 2013, 22 percent of college athletes have reported smoking marijuana.

This is why I believe marijuana, in certain doses, should be allowed in athletics. According to an article written by Jennifer Welsh and Kevin Loria for Business Insider, marijuana has plenty of positive health benefits.

Marijuana use can reduce anxiety. As someone who was once a student athlete, I understand the amount of stress that comes with it. Having to manage games, practices and classes can cause stress on the body. Keeping up a certain GPA while also having a social life and a decent sleep schedule can create stress for the mind.

In low doses, THC and CBD can be sedating and can encourage relaxation. In a blog titled anxietysocialnet.com, it is stated that with the right dosage, strains with higher compounds of CBD can lower—even eliminate—anxiety.

The article by Business Insider also notes that marijuana use relieves arthritis discomfort, alleviates pain, reduces inflammation and promotes sleep, all things that can benefit an athlete.

According to a study done by the American Journal of Medicine in 2013, those who smoke marijuana were concluded to have better responses to sugar. They were also reported to have smaller waists and higher metabolisms, despite consuming more calories.

One major benefit to marijuana use in athletes is that it could potentially protect athletes from concussions and trauma. The Cerebral Cortex journal published a study on mice which showed that marijuana lessened bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after injuries.

Many of the studies conducted regarding marijuana use in athletes focus on the negative effects rather than the good.

An article, written by Erin Kelly for greatest.com, points out that use of marijuana brings about relaxation before or after competition and promotes better sleep the night before. Which is why many runners, like Ultra runners Avery Collins and Jen Shelton, have admitted to running under the influence of marijuana.

Punishing athletes for cannabis use has also brought upon more bad than it has good. Von Miller, Michael Phelps and even Le’Veon Bell are just a few well-known athletes who have gotten in trouble for their involvement with the drug.

In most cases, the punishments these athletes face are much more severe than those who have committed much worse acts. For example, an Arizona Cardinals linebacker was suspended for the entire 2014 season for using marijuana, while Ray Rice was suspended for a mere two games.

In the NCAA, conferences are beginning to cut penalties for athletes who fail screening for substances like marijuana. According to an AP exclusive, one-third of schools in the Power Five conferences have reduced penalties or allow players to test positives more times before being disciplined.

Harvard Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and marijuana advocate Lester Grinspoon recently wrote an

open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying the league should stop testing players for marijuana. Grinspoon also suggested that the league should start funding research in the plant’s ability to protect the brain.

Instead of banning the substance and bringing about more negative reactions, professional and collegiate leagues should focus on the benefits of allowing their athletes to use marijuana.

I believe that regulated usage of marijuana within sports would provide a more positive outlook. Fewer athletes would be banned from playing the sport that they love. With fewer restrictions, athletes would feel more comfortable with using marijuana and would not have to obtain and use it in dangerous ways.

For college athletics, there would be less suspensions and negative feedback for the university. There would be fewer consequences regarding an athlete’s future if marijuana restrictions were removed. Former Nebraska star Randy Gregory, who was set to go high in the first round of the NFL Combine, was not selected until late in the second round after admitting he used marijuana in college.

Considering that people are becoming more accepting of the drug, I believe that marijuana use by athletes should be accepted as well.

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