After Michael Phelps, our countries most highly decorated Olympic stoner in history, was busted taking fat bong snaps in a well-deserved moment of self-congratulation, television’s talking heads immediately went into overdrive, complete with inflammatory puns – thought to be witty. Costing Phelps millions of dollars’ in potential endorsement income. Phelps, the one-time hero… became the pot puffing anti-hero with just the click of a camera phone.
So you’re a fan of the NFL? How about legendary running back Ricky Williams, who ran for over 10,000 yards in his abbreviated pro football career, achieving the kind of rushing numbers which would ordinarily warrant consideration for the NFL’s Hall of Fame – if not for one sticky problem, the stigma of multiple failed drug tests, along with several suspensions for marijuana use. One can only imagine what his numbers might have looked like had he not been banned by the NFL for the entire 2006 season, just for testing positive for marijuana’s active ingredient THC.
These and many other outstanding athletes have sparked the torch of debate for deflating the myth that smoking pot turns otherwise talented youth into do-nothing slugs, a generation of anti-motivational scoundrels. Now, with the “pot is bad” narrative quickly sliding in the trashcan of discarded propaganda, some are claiming smoking weed might actually take a professional athletes performance…up a notch.
For many around the San Francisco Area, it was well known that Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum loved to smoke pot. And some Bay Area fans felt that there was a direct correlation between his inability to smoke weed, as a means of relaxing between games, after his bust for marijuana possession in 2009. T-shirts begging major-league baseball authorities to “Let Timmy smoke” sold like chronic nugs at Schwag prices, but the league refused to reconsider; to this day, a positive test for cannabis will net a 50 game suspension.
Nonetheless, rumors persisted of regular pot smoking from many of the top players in the MLB. At a time when public scrutiny of steroid use hovers near all-time highs, many pro athletes allegedly indulge in Bud to relieve their aches and pains – and relax from time to time. Remarkably, at least one group of scientists have claimed that such casual cannabis use – say, as a substitute for alcohol – could give professional athletes an unfair advantage on the playing field.
Marilyn Huestis et al claimed in a 2011 report that cannabinoids could benefit athletes on the field by reducing anxiety and improving mental focus. The world anti-doping agency has maintained cannabis’s prohibited status since its inception, going so far as to strip Olympic snowboarding gold medalists Ross Rebagliati of his metal just days after he won the 1998 Winter Olympic Games – just because he tested positive for marijuana cannabinoids.