Arizona: Former NFL players start a dispensary to spark conversation around cannabis use

A group of Mint Dispensary customers surrounded a towering man wearing a flat-brim hat with a cross emblem and a T-shirt that had the familiar image of a marijuana leaf emblazoned on the front.

The customers might not have recognized that the guy in the hat with the pot leaf on his shirt was a former NFL standout, but they might have recognized another NFL great standing nearby wearing his trademark sunglasses.

Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon, a Scottsdale resident, joined former NFL linemen Kyle Turley and Eben Britton for a recent event at the Tempe dispensary, hoping to remove some of the stigma that comes with cannabis use. They came together to tell their stories and showcase how cannabis can be a new addition to the athlete’s gym bag.

For McMahon, cannabinoids haven’t just been a temporary fix. They’ve been a life-altering solution.

“God got us all off of these (pain) pills that we were taking for years,” said McMahon, the legendary quarterback who played seven of his 15 seasons with the Chicago Bears and had a short stint with the Arizona Cardinals.

Cannabis “is a much, much better thing for us. Everybody has a cannabinoid system in their bodies, and we’re supposed to be using this plant.”

Professional athletes endure a plethora of mental and physical obstacles while competing at the highest level. Finding the necessary pain-management solution that aligns with the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players has been controversial for decades.

With the NFL season in full swing, the level of punishment for cannabis use compared to other league violations is a major topic of discussion for players. Back in 2018, retired NFL tight end Martellus Bennett estimated during a Bleacher Report podcast that cannabinoids are used by more than 70% of the league’s players to manage pain.

“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said. “There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

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