Former football star Ricky Williams spoke out in favor of allowing football players and other athletes to use medical marijuana at the High Times So-Cal Medical Cannabis Cup, which was hosted last weekend in California.
Speaking as part of a panel titled “How Cannabis Will Save the NFL”, Williams spoke about his personal experiences as a high profile athlete whose use of medical cannabis made him the center of controversy.
“It didn’t make sense to me because I was putting my body under so much stress, and I got to a point in my career where I realized I’m not going to be able to do this much longer,” Williams said.
“And at the same time, the teams don’t care, they weren’t trying to take care of me.”
“I had to take care of myself, and one of the ways I took care of myself was using cannabis. I go see the doctor. He would wiggle my knee around. He would give me some anti-inflammatories, some pain pills, and say, ‘Just try and rest.’ That’s it.”
“I think there’s a better way.”
As a running back and Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Texas, Williams began making a name for himself as a dominant player. After entering the NFL, he went on to become one of only 29 players to rush for more than 10,000 career yards.
But his career has often been overshadowed by his marijuana use.
After failing multiple drug tests in 2003 and 2004, Williams was fined and given a four-game suspension. Rather than wait out the suspension, he chose to walk away from football altogether.
His decision was met with a great deal of criticism, as many sports analysts and commentators interpreted his move as a decision to smoke pot rather than continue pursuing his career.
Williams has said the decision was more complex than that.
“Somehow I was able to recover through the week and come back out there and take another pounding,” he said.
“Then finally one day I realized I can’t do this anymore, so I retired from football and went to go find myself. And then I got sued for a lot of money and had to come back.”
There is a growing number of former athletes, including Williams, who are becoming increasingly vocal in their call for professional sport’s leagues to allow players to use marijuana to treat their injuries and other health conditions.
Last fall, a group of retired NFL players officially called on the league to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances.
Here’s a clip of Williams’s presentation: