Add former NFL running back Willis McGahee to the list of high-profile athletes espousing the health benefits of marijuana.
McGahee is slated to speak at The NFL and Medical Marijuana conference in Miami the day before the Super Bowl. He’s scheduled for a session titled “Round-Table Discussion with Panel of Former NFL Players Utilizing Cannabis for Medical Conditions,” although McGahee is the only former NFL player on the roster.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the physician portrayed by Will Smith in the film Concussion, is scheduled to give the keynote speech.
During his 10-year career with the Ravens, Bills, Broncos and Browns, McGahee carried the rock 2,095 times and caught 210 passes.
He had sustained damage even before his grueling NFL career started. As a Miami Hurricane, McGahee famously blew out his knee in the fourth quarter of the national championship game in January 2003, an injury severe enough that it forced him to miss the 2003 NFL season.
Now 36, McGahee was known as a supremely conditioned athlete. The Miami native’s off-season workouts included harnessing himself to a Ford F-150 loaded with his training partners and pulling the truck for 30-second intervals.
As cannabis legalization sweeps the nation, former pro athletes have begun to advocate for marijuana as a safe way to treat their ailments. Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams spoke at a cannabis conference in Fort Lauderdale last year, and former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is a proponent of cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the compounds in marijuana. UFC fighter Nate Diaz has said he uses CBD to treat inflammation.
Eugene Monroe, a former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, also says pot works better than opioids.
"This pain is never going away. My body is damaged," Monroe told the Washington Post last year. "I have to manage it somehow. Managing it with pills was slowly killing me. Now I'm able to function and be extremely efficient by figuring out how to use different formulations of cannabis."
In another sign that weed is gaining wider acceptance, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances for 2018.
Florida voters in 2016 approved medical marijuana, and states such as California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington have legalized cannabis for all adults.