Once the flamboyant face of the brash, Super Bowl champion 1985 Chicago Bears, former quarterback Jim McMahon has come to be known more as a face of the horrors that football can wreak on an athlete’s body and brain. He’s got chronic pain in multiple joints, and suffers from early-onset dementia as a result of the pounding he took in his 15-year NFL career. Now, because of how he’s been treating those conditions, McMahon could have a third association to his name: Advocate for medical marijuana.
McMahon lives in Arizona, where he takes state-approved marijuana to treat his pain and depression, as an alternative to the prescription painkillers he’d taken for years. McMahon said that the pills “did more harm than good,” and that cannabis “has been a godsend.” Now, he’s coming out publicly as an advocate because the state of Illinois is debating a bill that would expand the list of approved usages for marijuana to include chronic pain.
McMahon is the second well-known former athlete in as many weeks to extol the virtues of cannabis as a substitute for harder, narcotic painkillers — former Portland Trail Blazer Clifford Robinson is starting a medical marijuana business as well. Additionally, former NFL tight end Nate Jackson, like Robinson, admitted in March of last year that he used marijuana as a painkiller in the NFL, and connected the dots explicity to the debilitating post-career conditions that McMahon has experienced:
“I feel like I exited the game with my mind intact. And I credit that to marijuana in a lot of ways and not getting hooked on these pain pills that are recklessly distributed in the league when a guy gets an injury.”
These athletes and their stories are backed by increased evidence that cannabis has far fewer negative side effects than older treatments for conditions frequently experienced by athletes, and hopefully they’re part of a rising tide toward removing the stigma of therapeutic marijuana use, both for athletes and in society as a whole.
(Via Chicago Tribune)