These athletes went from professional sports to cannabis

Published Jan 29, 2021 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / master1305

Cannabis has not been, until recently, a product that is synonymous with professional athletes. Times are changing, and professional athletes are not only reaping the benefits of the marijuana plant for health and wellness purposes, but they’re also the green that can line their pockets and bank accounts.

More and more athletes, including NFL players, are lending their name to back new cannabis companies today. No longer is cannabis something they participated in solely for recreational or medicinal issues for themselves. Professional athletes are now owners of what has proven to be a lucrative business so that they can assist professional players with health concerns that have commonly been treated with more traditional pharmaceutical drugs.

The stigma is diminishing

Times are changing in the professional sports world. Cannabis before this year was deemed as a banned substance, and using it was against every major sports association's rules and regulations except for the National Hockey League. Today cannabis is still on that list for many associations, but the NBA has elected not to test the members by extending the suspension of testing to include the 2020-2021 season.

Several pro athletes have lost endorsement money and, for some, their careers due to using recreational cannabis. One of the athletes in that spotlight was the former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.

Ricky Williams

The NFL has suspended Williams numerous times for testing positive for cannabis use and violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Ricky believes that his losses total more than 10 million dollars in salary loss and potential endorsements, all because of cannabis use. He ultimately retired from his position with the Miami Dolphins' all-time rushing leader in 2011.

Williams revealed that he used cannabis as a physical recovery tool as well as to treat his social anxiety disorder and his depression concerns. As more states are coming on board with legalizing cannabis, It seems like a guarantee that Williams will recoup any losses from his pro-athlete cannabis use as he delves into the profitable cannabis business through Real Wellness.

Williams launched his personal brand of marijuana-based products in 2018. Since then, he has educated himself in holistic and herbalism medicine, and the results have produced products for Real Wellness such as:

  • Serenity

  • Head Ease


Both of these products are in the form of vape cartridges and contain THC. Serenity is targeted to help relieve anxiety and muscle cramps, and Head Ease is formulated to target headaches.

Real Wellness is also producing a sports line that will target bruises, sprains, and muscle tightness concerns. These issues will be addressed by the use of a balm being made by Real Wellness. The balm will contain:

  • CBD
  • Cayenne
  • Lavender
  • Arnica
  • St. John’s Wort

Joe Montana

Another noteworthy pro-athlete that needs to be mentioned is the Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana.  Joe started his journey in the cannabis market back in 2017 when he initiated one of the world’s largest marijuana-focused media companies, Herb.

Al Harrington

Viola is the cannabis birthchild of Al Harrington. The company came to fruition from Harrington’s love of the therapeutic values that cannabis contained. He began using medical marijuana in 2008. Viola has since been producing products in Oregon, California, Colorado, and Michigan. Some of the products made include:

  • Pre-rolls
  • Ultra-premium flower
  • Concentrates

Harrington and his company pride themselves on maintaining a focus on increasing minority ownership by creating opportunities and reinvesting in the community. The brand recently launched a project to generate 10,000 marijuana jobs. The incubator project will pair the Black family-owned farm Gold Standard Farms with Viola. Standard Farms has been in business for over eighty years and proudly has two locations. Viola is not stopping there; they have been vocal in the social advocacy space and have recently launched Viola Cares.

Final words

Recent studies by ESPN show that 61 percent of NFL players have confided that they prefer to use CBD to relieve anxiety and pain. As more and more athletes are learning about the benefits of the cannabis plant, it appears more are wanting to be involved in the cannabis space, and they want more than just toking. They want ownership in a business that can encompass health and wellness and recreational abilities, and many are looking towards cannabis to fulfill that dream.

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